Sunday, May 6, 2012

Louhos Project - Finnish Open Data for Local Community. Leo Lahti at Share Conference 2


At Share Conference 2, Leo Lahti presented open data project Louhos, a joint effort of three Finnish developers. Together with Leo Lahti, members of the team are Juuso Parkkinen and Joona Lehtomäki.

Straight on, citing Lahti, the main goals of the project are two: a) to collect and develop tools to analyse open data, 2) use these tools to understand how society works and make it more transparent.

Lahti spoke about the role of data in “the accumulation of knowledge in the society”. “As we are now starting to have more and more open data, (..) there are different problems to be faced”.
Lahti individuates three essential passages for a constructive use of data:
  1. once the data is gathered, the problem is to translate it into information and facts. Only once this has been done, we can pass on the higher level of knowledge.
  2. understanding the systems from which the data was extracted,
  3. third moment is using data to “help to guide action”, deciding “what to do”.

So, Lahti proposes that the final aim of data is to “return” it to the society.
The second topic Lahti spoke about concerns the integration of data from various sources. In his opinion, creating “real value” from the data lies in its combining “across different domains, (..) not from individual data sets”.
On that subject, Lahti provided us with an example on how Louhos produced a visualisation of the proposal for the reshaping of municipalities in Finland. The group wanted to demonstrate how it would change fiscal policies based on changing population densities in different regions. To realise that, Louhos combined three sources of data: Finnish Broadcasting Company, Finnish Land Survey and Statistics Finland. The precondition for this very informing visualisation was the disposition of these agencies to share their data, other countries should take example. But the point is that even when that kind of data is made available it means little if it is not integrated, processed, analysed and eventually visualised. 

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