YourDataStories: Making #OpenData more accessible and more transparent!

YourDataStories is a three year innovation action, co-funded by the European Commission as part of the Horizon2020 research initiative. The project aims at offering a solution to make the ever growing amount of publicly available data from government sources broadly known as Open Government Data (OGD) more transparent and easier to handle for everyone. In three pilot use cases covering public spendings in the areas of infrastructure, development aid and in cross-EU financial comparability, the consortium offers a solution to easily search, analyse and finally edit and visualize #OpenData. Time still flies and YourDataStories (YDS) is already past the second year of its three year project duration.

So many first steps were taken in the first year, and followed by second and thirds. Based on the ground work we put our efforts in the actual development and testing of an easy to use platform. Activities range from specifying user requirements, applied testing and enriching data. In short: the envisioned application is filled with life.

With each partner involved bringing a special set of expertise to the project, everyone contributes to the main goal and takes on the respective challenges. Here is an overview of what partners faced in their special domains and what next steps they see coming in year three.

Tasks and Challenges

Project Coordination (ATC)

Ensuring success on the way to the final implementation

The second year’s main focus for Athens Technology Center (ATC) was the successful completion of the foreseen project milestones, the continuous monitoring and adaptation of the plan for eventually implementing the project’s objectives, the generation and on time delivery of project deliverables, the maintenance of good collaboration between project partners through the establishment of continuous communication links and the completion of a number of project meetings as well as the inclusion of the Galway City Council as a new partner in the YDS consortium. In year three the management activities will of course continue and attention will be also given to the implementation of the final integrated YDS platform as well as the exploitation activities to transform the project’s results into a sustainable business case.

The YourDataStories Team working collaboratively on business strategies for year three during a Consortium Meeting

Technical Infrastructure and Linked Data Analytics (NCSR-D, TenForce)

Refining the data model

The Data Model under development is the corpus of the YDS platform. In this version, the domain data model encircles the majority of the important but heterogeneous economic open data sources. Among others we focussed on Linked Open Economy (LOE) modelling the flows incorporated in public budgeting and procurement.

For the design of LOE model expansion we employed methodologies and techniques that are widely adopted by most of the models. The model is aligned with existing ontologies and vocabularies and relevant business rules are applied. The new syntax is documented by a mapping spreadsheet, Linked Data and online hypertext. In this context, requirements that resulted from the consultation process with the users and are directly related to model characteristics and specifications include functional, performance, data and legal aspects.
The model is currently helping serve over 200 million triples of interlinked data via three separate channels – for traditional web developers and Linked Data experts alike.

Legal and Ethical Aspects (GFOSS)

Finding the right balance between transparency and data privacy

As a product of ‘the data-as-everything’ era, YDS aims at finding the right mix among different tools, practices, resources and values. Balancing among concepts like transparency, public sector information, privacy and related ethical issues is in general terms a tough work and still in progress. To strike this balance, YDS designed appropriate compliance measures towards the development of a complete data management and protection system according to its special features and goals and checked the ‘to do’ list according to the requirements of the GDPR.

Dissemination & Evaluation (DW)

More evaluation, dissemination and collaboration

Evaluation and feedback on the developing prototype of the project was one of the main drivers for Deutsche Welle (DW) in year 2. Furthermore, we focused on communicating the project’s results to the community we started building in the first year. As a result, YDS is a recognized member of the #DDJ and #OpenData community. Part of the exchange is that we connected with different Horizon2020-funded projects that target open data solutions, attended several conferences, gave workshops, conducted hackathons and shared our expertise and experiences with stakeholders.

Collaboration of the YourDataStories project with the DigiWhist Project and the OpenBudgets Project

Putting YourDataStories’ Prototype to use

The projects consists of three different pilots. The leaders of all three of them work closely with the technical partners in order to have a powerful and user-friendly platform. Hence, evaluation and heavy testing was one of the focal points in year 2.

The YDS Platform (ATC, NCSR-D)

The platform developed profoundly

The intermediate version of the YDS platform is now available offering a complete set of the functionalities, supporting the three pilots and act as the test-bed for the YDS stakeholders to experience and validate the YDS services. The platform can be accessed through the following URL:

Also many applications of YDS were updated:  The second version of the components has been delivered, containing components regarding personalisation, visualisation, access control and identity management, and components supporting the marketplace and help desk. A set of pilot applications has been designed and implemented, following several rounds of internal and external evaluations, covering the requirements for all three use cases.

This dashboard allows you to explore data related to official development assistance (ODA) provided by donor countries to developing countries all over the world

User Stories Pilot 1 – “Public Spending” (MAREG)

More hands-on user evaluation

On the 19th of January 2017 we conducted the second focus group evaluation session. During the evaluation session we presented the progress of work made for the first pilot, along with a demonstration of the YDS web platform, and the participants answered the User Evaluation Form and gave their input on the YDS platform. On the same period we also conducted interviews with users in order to get their feedback and evaluation of the platform.

On February an article was published on the YDS website regarding open data in Greece. Finally we participated on the plenary meeting that took place in Athens on November 2016, and the review meeting on April 2017.

User Stories Pilot 2 – “Development aid” (EJC)

Finding stories inside the Dutch aid and trade to Zimbabwe data

The European Journalism Centre (EJC) is coordinating a use case that looks to exploit YDS for the purposes of transparency in development cooperation, with a focus on the Netherlands. Between January and March 2017, YDS saw the first real-life use of the platform by journalists and other external stakeholders. It was employed to research and tell two actual stories (one Dutch aid being blocked by Mugabe on and the other on the Bakker Brothers seed company), and put to the test by experienced data journalists and an expert for development information. While the test pilots had comments, they also appreciated the scope and depth of what they could do with YDS.

The first user stories created with real data inside the platform

User Stories Pilot 3 – “EU Financial comparability” (NUIG)

Evaluation of the YDS prototype by public officials and journalists

On the 18th January 2017 in the Harbour Hotel a group of nine YDS users came together to have a look at the platform and share their opinions. In all there were seven public officials from Galway City Council and two journalists.

While not everyone in the group was always of the same opinion – the public officials hat a different focus than the journalists – everyone liked the platform and found it easy to use. They liked the fact that multiple data sources relating to public projects were accessible in one place. The journalists were clear that data alone could not provide truth, whereas the public officials saw the potential of YDS for telling good news stories, but everyone considered the visualised data as good indicators for digging deeper into a topic.


During the second year, YDS has already been presented at several different conferences and workshops. Here you see selected external events where YDS participated at. Further down you find an overview of internal meetings and focus groups.

Conferences & Workshops

October 5th to 6th, Madrid (Spain)

The IODC considers itself the essential meeting point for the global community to debate and study the future of open data. YourDataStories was present at the conference with two members as regular participants as well as part of a panel discussion on “Data and Accountability” visited by around 40 people. Michalis Vafopoulos (NCSR-D) held a presentation on the “Linked open economy: Tak(ing) full advantage of economic data”.

EPP Winter University

November 24th to 25th, Brussels (Belgium)
We were invited by the EPP to talk about YourDataStories as one project that is aiming to make complex data easily accessible and explorable for everyone. Under the label “Investigative Journalism” we interacted out to more than 25 participants with a hands-on workshop.

1st Artificial Intelligence Conference

March 21st 2017, Athens (Greece)

The conference aims to combine cutting-edge science and business focusing on Artificial Intelligence. In this context YDS partner NCSR-D in person of Dr. Georgios Petasis was invited to speak about open government data.

Publication: Extending Open Data Platforms with Storytelling Features

June 7th to 9th 2017, New York City (U.S.A.)

YDS’s partner National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) successfully submitted a paper (‘Extending Open Data Platforms with Storytelling Features‘) at the annual International Conference on Digital Government Research 2017 (F). The paper is based on research conducted in the scope of YDS. The results were presented by NUIG in the track of “Opening Government: From Open Data Infrastructure to Collaboration” during this year’s conference.

Focus Groups, Evaluation,
Super Users & Hackathons
Focus Group testing the YDS platform

January 19th 2017, Athens (Greece)Partners NCSR-D, GFOSS and MAREG successfully organised a focus group for journalists  and civil servants who tested the functionalities of the YDS platform.

Developers Workshop

January 23rd 2017, Galway (Ireland)
NUIG organized and conducted a hands-on workshop for developers in order to focus on the technical challenges and opportunities of the project.

Super Users

January 27th 2017, Brussel (Belgium)
Under the guidance of EJC a group consisting of two well-known data-journalists and one public official had a productive kick-off meeting earlier this year. Ever since they remotely test the YDS platform – e.g. digging for stories – and provide feedback on it.

Last but not Least

In year three, the YDS consortium aims to finalize the platform by strengthen our effort in order to make the platform a sophisticated, user-friendly and content-rich application. We see ourselves on a good way along the road to contribute to the Open Government Data-movement. The third year will be crucial: we want to remain on track and convince the people of our idea.

In case there are any questions (technical execution, ethical questions, usability etc.), please, do not hesitate to contact us. In order to stay updated about the project, read our blog  or follow us on social networks. We also welcome feedback, so be in touch.



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