Category Archives: featured

Green light for the Belgian federal Open Data strategy

When we first read the results of the 2014 Open Data Index, we said we had big expectations for 2015. We couldn’t be more right: today, the federal ministerial council has, by recommendation of Minister De Croo and Secretary of State Francken, approved an ambitious federal open data strategy. Open by default: an important step to embed Belgium into the digital global ecosystem.
The highlights of what has been decided:

  • State owned companies are included: the same strategy applies to e.g., Proximus, bpost or the Belgian railway company SNCB/NMBS.
  • “Comply or explain”: all datasets and finalised documents have to be opened up by default. When something is kept private or is available under a non-open license, the data owner is obliged to provide an explanation.
  • The default license is CC0 or licenses with no restrictions. This license has proven in the past to be the best open data license. More information on using CC0 for open data here.
  • Data should be provided in a machine-readable fashion. This is great news for app developers, yet it’s even more exciting for developers of machines that automatically discover datasets and are able to reuse datasets without human intervention.
  • All government services will have to appoint an open data champion, which is the contact point for the datasets within that organisation.

Open Knowledge Belgium, the board and its community members, are unanimous: we couldn’t be more excited. The strategy gives us the needed policy guidelines to build further on a more open Belgium.

Filed Away” by Mark Crossfield is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0


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Open Ghent

Open Ghent is an event where we invite everyone to the Lakenhal next to the Belfry in Ghent. Join us in this UNESCO World Heritage protected hall and find out how Ghent, which is also home to the headquarters of Open Knowledge Belgium, has been a pioneer in opening up its data and is still innovating the city up to this day. The location for this event is no coincidence as well. Artoria, a company specialised in historical research and concessionaire of the Belfry was one of the partners of open Summer of code 2014. Together with two #oSoc14 students they created an application for the Belfry in Ghent, based on Open Source Augemented Reality engines and available on GitHub. During this event, Artoria wants to test out the application and gather feedback. But that’s not all. The DataTank which is an open source RESTful data management system, presented by the developers of We Open Data, will present the latest update and the features of the system. Come join us at this free event.


14:00: Introduction on Open Data in Gent

14:25: Short pitch on open Summer of code 2014 and 2015 by Pieter-Jan Pauwels

14:30: Short presentation on how the ‘Belfort app’ became a reality

14:45: Visit to the Belfry aan het Belfort + Feedback on their application

15:30: Presentation of The DataTank and how they want to work with the community in the future.

15:45: Networking drink

Register here:

Open Knowledge Belgium presented

Open Knowledge Belgium is an umbrella organisation for Open Knowledge initiatives in Belgium. Our most important asset are our working groups. Open Knowledge Belgium tries to support these working groups working around a certain open subject in a loose setting by providing them help with submitting projects, bringing them together on a yearly conference, providing them with technical tools to e.g., open up data (, providing them the contacts to talk with ambitious students during summer of code and so forth.

Each of these working groups have a representative in in the general Open Knowledge Belgium board of directors. And we have a full-time community manager.

How are we funded? Find out in this presentation:

This presentation has been given on the 25th of September at the European citizen science conference at the European Commission, as well as at Waag society in Amsterdam before members of the Apps for Europe project.

Launching the Linked Open Transport vocabularies

How far do you live from work?

Did you answer this question in minutes or in kilometers? Many answer this in minutes. Now, imagine how machines would have to get to know the answer to such question for you: it would need a lot of data.

That data is in some cases, e.g., for Amsterdam, already sufficiently available as open data: open street map and the openOV initiative in The Netherlands help. Yet, to achieve this system, we need to do a huge job in integrating data and integrate these datasets on 1 machine. What if we can advance on the state of the art and use Semantic Web/Linked Data technologies to facilitate all this?

This is what I need for my PhD as well. So, we have started creating 4 vocabularies: one for transit feeds or timeschedules, one for categorizing transport datasets, one for road traffic events and one for real-time arrivals and departures of public transport.

One of these vocabularies has now been released: – the Linked GTFS vocabulary. You can help out building these vocabularies at our github repository, or you can just dig in and start using our terms. You can now browse this at our Linked Open Vocabularies project:

Third edition of the Open Data Day Flanders (Dutch)

Elk jaar organiseert de Vlaamse overheid de “Open Data Dag in Vlaanderen”. Meer dan 500 deelnemers uit binnen- en buitenland hebben de eerste en tweede editie van dit Open Data evenement bijgewoond.


Dit jaar is de gebruiker van Open Data aan het woord; bedrijven, organisaties, ontwikkelaars en individuen die met Open Data aan de slag gaan. Entrepreneurs en anderen die met deze data en informatie applicaties en web toepassingen bouwen die op hun beurt economische en sociale meerwaarde creëren.

Nationale- en internationale CEO’s, CIO’s en projectmanagers krijgen op deze Open Data Dag in Vlaanderen de gelegenheid hun projecten en applicaties in de schijnwerper te zetten. Zij zullen ons ook vertellen wat hun verwachtingen en aanbevelingen zijn met betrekking tot het Open Databeleid en de beschikbare data feeds, welke nieuwe klemtonen de aanbodzijde moet leggen en waar data-eigenaars verder aandacht moeten aan besteden.

Er is meer. Op deze Open Data Dag in Vlaanderen krijgen data-eigenaars (de entiteiten bij de Vlaamse overheid en de lokale overheid)  en data-gebruikers (geïnteresseerde ontwikkelaars, bedrijven, organisaties en designers), tijdens een “Datadive”, de gelegenheid, in een constructieve dialoog, samen het aanbod en gebruik van die data op elkaar af te stemmen. Er wordt onderzocht wat de behoeften en wensen zijn van de data-gebruiker, op welke wijze data-eigenaars hierop kunnen inspelen, welke projecten er al op stapel staan en op welke wijze deze dialoog verder kunnen continueren.

Ook op 3 oktober, tijdens deze Open Data Dag in Vlaanderen, wordt er een workshop georganiseerd voor ondernemende mensen van kleine en grote bedrijven, maatschappelijke organisaties, kennisinstellingen en overheden, dus voor ondernemers die van een open data idee een concept willen maken, maar ook ondernemers van een bestaande toepassing een open data dienst willen maken.

Kortom, het wordt een bijzonder interessante dag voor iedereen die op welke wijze ook al betrokken mag zijn bij het Open Data gebeuren. Wees er bij, bekijk het volledige programma en registreer alvast hier..

Have a picture of the Atomium? Think twice before sharing!

So you have created a nice picture of a panorama in Belgium? Think twice before you share it. Copyright legislation in Belgium doesn’t allow you to share the picture: there is no freedom of panorama. This is why amongst others, if you look at the wikipedia page of the atomium, you will see a picture of the miniature version, not of the real thing.
Is this absurd? Obviously it is. Neelie Kroes however is calling for copyright reform and we wish to support this.
The atomium on wikipedia

The atomium on Wikipedia

On social media, our friends of Creative Commons Belgium have opened the discussion:

Open Transport: 4 focuses

During the OKFN meetup in Athens, Greece, I gave a presentation on the 4 focuses for the Open Transport working group. It is at the same time an open call to collaborate with us in various projects. Everyone needs the 4 focus points described in the presentation. The Open Transport working group aims to bring together everyone who needs this.

The DataTank: New version, professional support.

The DataTank is taking it to the next level. New version. Professional support.

The DataTank is open source software, just like CKAN, Drupal or Elastic Search, which you can use to transform a dataset into an HTTP API.


The DataTank has come a long way, since the idea was conceived by Bart van Loon in 2008, it has been taken over by Pieter Colpaert in 2010, to then be managed by the Open Knowledge Foundation Belgium. Today we are proud to launch a more stable code base on which professional support will be provided.

Want support for The DataTank in your organisation? Contact our team at

To get an idea of what The DataTank can do for you, check or the demo website.

If you’re from Belgium, you might be interested in joining our release drinks the 13th of December.

Data Days – The Hackathon

We have already sent out a Save The Date for Open Belgium, the conference part of Data Days 2014 in Ghent the 17th of February. As part of Data Days (#dd2014), we are also inviting project developers to compete in a hackathon. This is not what you’re used to though…


The stakes are high! We have a total amount of prizes of €35.000 (and extras) split in 3:

  • € 5.000 + a trip to pitch your app in e.g. Manchester for “citizen developers”: you are not a real programmer but you are interested in datasets for your city and tweaking apps to your needs. You are coming *this Thursday* to Sint Laureins meet data owners, learn to use the datasets, network and get explanation about some tools that can be used (register here)
  • € 10.000 for a professional app that helps to fight poverty. The award ceremony of this app will already take place the 13th of December. As well this Thursday you will be able to meet people who have identified social problems, but don’t have the skills to develop them. If you implement one of these ideas, you’re raising you chances.
  • € 20.000 for an app that re-uses the very fresh Open Data from the VKBO (register of companies in Flanders and Belgium). With the 20k, you are supposed to keep your app up and running afterwards or to use it as seedfunding for your start-up.

This Thursday at Manage IT in Sint Laureins, the website of Data Days will be launched and the hackathon will be kicked off. Feel free to stop by!

One year and one day at the Open Transport WG

It’s the 18th of September and 40 open transport experts gather in a small room in a conference center in Geneva (Switzerland). It’s precisely 1 year and 1 day ago that we were gathered in Helsinki to write the Open Transport Data Manifest. In meantime, this manifest has been used in the Italian Parliament, has been presented at several Open Data conferences and has been used to convince smaller transport agencies that this is the right way forward.

This one year has been a quest for problems and potential solutions. During the next year we will focus on a couple of projects we have identified as being the next steps. How we got there will be posted in a couple of blog posts during the next weeks.

Tristram at OKCon

What’s next?