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Your Data Stories

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - YDS (Your Data Stories)

Reporting period: 2017-02-01 to 2018-01-31

Recent years have witnessed considerable enthusiasm over the opportunities offered by open data. Across sectors, it is widely believed today that we are entering a new era of information openness and transparency and that this has the potential to spur economic innovation, social transformation, and fresh forms of political and government accountability. Despite the evident potential of open data, and despite the growing amounts of information being released by governments and corporations, the results are not yet satisfying. There are several reasons behind this inefficiency: 1) Data are available, but at the same time are diverse & incompatible; 2) the lack of standardization, along with the plethora of vocabularies in use, 3) citizens/users do not seem to be attracted by the existing tools. These reasons can become real obstacles for stakeholders that are primarily involved with OGD, both on the “supply side”, such as governmental bodies, but also on the “demand side”, immediate consumers of OGD such as policy-makers or journalists. In this context, YourDataStories (YDS) has developed a highly customizable online platform for data exploitation focused on the financial flows that are critical for transparency, collaboration, and participation. YDS has demonstrated applications that support users to interconnect, search analyse, explore and understand available data in order to extract insights, facts, and material to support and shape their data stories. In particular, YDS offers: i) the backbone in terms of a semantic data model & a powerful architecture for bringing together heterogeneous data from siloed data sources; and ii) an easy & user-friendly solution allowing the drill-down, visual exploration and combination of data into meaningful stories. The YDS infrastructure & the provided reusable components have been used to create a set of visualisation apps, ranging from Web applications (offering facet search, workspaces & dashboards, “wizard-like" interfaces allowing various kind of stakeholders to find, understand and consume the data), to mobile & social media applications that inform citizens and gather their feedback.
The YDS has been piloted and validated in three different usage scenarios: 1) Follow Public Money, 2) Tracking Development Aid and International Trade; 3) Cross-Europe Financial Comparability. The YDS system has been tested in different countries by more than 100 users. The final prototype of YDS is seen by real-world users as a success and a platform that satisfies an actual demand. Finally, organizational and economic impacts have been assessed, and an exploitation plan has been provided, which sets the grounds for future exploitation of project’s results.
The YDS project officially started on 1st February 2015 and ended 31st January 2018. Overall and as contractually foreseen the project managed to:
• Gather contributions from actual users during the requirements elicitation phase. Engaged all potential user groups (data journalists, public bodies’ officers, auditing bodies, businesses, representatives from Government, civil society, and developers) in the user needs survey in order to disclose various opinions and views on YDS. Overall, 9 focus groups have been organised with the participation of more than 110 people that provided feedback (through open discussion sessions, interviews, use case scenarios & questionnaires) that has been taken into account and result in the definition of User & Functional requirements
• Define the technical specs and system architecture based on the user requirements that have been translated into technical specifications for the YDS system and related components
• Produce a DMP, which outlines the handling of the data sources at the different project stages based on H2020 guidelines
• Define a framework to address the Legal and Ethical aspects of the project
• Develop a semantic data model & data source assessment methodology putting the basis for choosing viable data sources and building sustainable data harvesting, alignment and validation pipelines for all three pilots
• Ensure validity and reusability of YDS DCAT-AP catalogues, facilitating the consumption of our datasets from portals like the EU Data portal, through the YDS DCAT-AP validator, which greatly improves the development speed, as well as usefulness of the generated catalogue (reducing the turn-around time)
• Complete the description of all YDS APIs as Open API specifications, ensuring easier documentation maintenance, a standardized documentation format, and ultimately providing up-to-date documentation to end users
• Improve the overall data exploration experience of the YDS repository through a new flexible customizable front-end, which overcomes the limitations of the Virtuoso Faceted Browser
• Successfully release the YDS platform in January 2016 and collect users’ feedback; producing iterative versions until the launch of the intermediate version of the YDS platform and tools in January 2017. Provide a final version of the platform in January 2018. During the final year of the project, a number of important improvements have been performed in order to incorporate users’ feedback and new requirements. This constant feedback loop between end users and YDS team throughout the project period helped to ensure that the platform fits with user requirements
• Define the methodological framework and the success indicators to be used to validate project results
• Perform three rounds of formal user evaluations in focus groups and one-on-one interviews with representatives of the YDS target groups and continued activity with the permanent expert user group and many internal ad-hoc tests and evaluations of new features as they become available. The feedback loop between external users, user partners, and technical partners was continued and further intensified towards the end of the project with the aim of perfecting the final integrated prototype for end-user purposes. Overall, more than 100 potential users have validated the project results
• Create and deliver a strategic communications campaign for YDS across Europe in order to create awareness about the project results, reach specific audiences and support the user engagement work of the YDS pilot sites. Apart from the attendance to different events and workshops, the project website, Twitter and YouTube accounts have been additional channels used throughout the project duration to host the needs of the targeted stakeholders to find information about the project
• Liaise with relevant projects/initiatives/experts in the field to disseminate project results and ensure exchange of knowledge
• Conduct a competitive market analysis of already existing concepts, systems and components relevant to YDS and identified market gaps and the YDS Unique Selling Proposition
• Undertake comprehensive market research in order to determine a final exploitation model as well as to generate models for future sustainability of the project outcomes and create a ‘go to market’ strategy for YDS
YDS potential impact could be summarised as follows:
a) Connecting Linked Data to Web UIs and Web Analytics
b) Co-creating applications for drilling-down and visually exploring financial data,
c) Providing cross-border services for exploring financial data on public contracts;
d) Benefiting from the Social Web;
e) Transferring good practices and existing expertise across Europe