Project description

Open Development Cambodia (ODC) is an independent open data NGO which specializes in aggregating data and developing interactive digital maps and datasets. We collect data about Cambodia from many sources into an easily-accessed platform, opening space for informed discussion of development issues. This organization has a strong philosophy of objectivity and does not pursue advocacy work. ODC’s mission follows the open data movement which is based on the simple premise that data collected for public interest should be publicly available without restrictions. ODC aims to make information and data in the public domain freely available to everyone to use and to present this data in a useful way to facilitate analysis.The increasing of public awareness, enable individual analysis, improve information sharing, inform planning and public dialogue, all contributing to Cambodia’s sustainable development. The data ODC collects are not only made accessible on the website, our ODC team also developed an interactive map explorer that invites visitors to synthesize data and create new knowledge and insights to match their particular needs. The interactive and playful presentation of data can be the starting point for original research by journalists, government official, scholars or NGOs. In addition, ODC contextualizes the published data by describing them in the most objective way. Where applicable, we also provide multiple, sometimes conflicting, datasets for one topic so that readers can form their own opinion.

What makes this project innovative?

When ODC’s data hub was launched, it was the first open data website or organisation in Southeast Asia. Since then, we created a unique online environment which we constantly try to improve in order to simplify its usability and extend its functionality. The interactive maps are the heart of the ODC website. Our platform covers a broader range of information and development themes than most groups who generally focus on specific themes. This allows for a more layered approach where competing perspectives are represented. Instead of just providing a single pre-packaged viewpoint or agenda, ODC’s interactive site invites visitors to synthesize data and create new knowledge and insights to match their particular needs. ODC has thereby established a one-stop only online hub which compiles data from a wide variety of fields with additional information and resources.

What ODC provides is important for a social and sustainable development of fast-growing economy such as Cambodia. Young Cambodians in particular are demanding more participation in their own governance. Information is key to them exerting an informed and responsible voice. Therefore, ODC contents help facilitate democratic engagement and participation in a country where such activities are not always so easy to exercise. ODC makes its data resources accessible to everyone, in both English and Khmer language – it is critical that data is provided in the local language - and thereby attempts to reach both international and domestic audiences.
Our website has grown to on average more than 48k unique monthly visitors. Even though our website is easily accessible for all Cambodians with access to Internet (see our map on Internet reach in Cambodia!), we aim to reach especially journalists, researchers and students to work with the data we provide. Based on data from google analytics tools and feedback received through a variety of avenues, ODC has become a site extensively used by: journalists, academics, students, donors and development agencies, other non-governmental organizations and government technocrats and policy makers.

What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?

When ODC’s data hub was launched, it was the first open data website or organisation in Southeast Asia. Since then, we created a unique online environment which we constantly try to improve in order to simplify its usability and extend its functionality. The interactive maps are the heart of the ODC website. Our platform covers a broader range of information and development themes than most groups who generally focus on specific themes. This allows for a more layered approach where competing perspectives are represented. Instead of just providing a single pre-packaged viewpoint or agenda, ODC’s interactive site invites visitors to synthesize data and create new knowledge and insights to match their particular needs. ODC has thereby established a one-stop only online hub which compiles data from a wide variety of fields with additional information and resources.
What ODC provides is important for a social and sustainable development of fast-growing economy such as Cambodia. Young Cambodians in particular are demanding more participation in their own governance. Information is key to them exerting an informed and responsible voice. Therefore, ODC contents help facilitate democratic engagement and participation in a country where such activities are not always so easy to exercise. ODC makes its data resources accessible to everyone, in both English and Khmer language – it is critical that data is provided in the local language - and thereby attempts to reach both international and domestic audiences. Our website has grown to on average more than 48k unique monthly visitors. Even though our website is easily accessible for all Cambodians with access to Internet (see our map on Internet reach in Cambodia!), we aim to reach especially journalists, researchers and students to work with the data we provide. Based on data from google analytics tools and feedback received through a variety of avenues, ODC has become a site extensively used by: journalists, academics, students, donors and development agencies, other non-governmental organizations and government technocrats and policy makers.

Source and methodology

ODC does not conduct the primary data collection but we gathers existing data from public domains and make it more accessible, informative and usable. ODC collects information from governmental institutions, Royal Gazette (sub decree, laws, policies, agreements), NGOs, academic publications, websites, and newspapers. Its open data approach guarantees materials and information are available to all users for use and download. We review data based on available referencing documents but do not generally verify data. However, we provide metadata to describe our data and to give the user the opportunity to evaluate the data’s logical consistency, accuracy, completeness, process and source. Apart from collecting online dataset or documents, ODC stands in the value of building partnership with other institutions. ODC’s collaborations and partnerships have resulted in a considerable amount of new data being made available and knowledge created to support development strategies and projects in Cambodia. ODC also open for comments and suggestions from partners and public to improve the use of our website to make sure it meets the needs.

Technologies Used

The Open Development Cambodia platform is an open source site related to both software used and methodology. Practically, as ODC is a hug site that hosts a lot of datasets and maps, Postgresql, a powerful open source object-relational database system, is used to store and manage the library of geospatial and non-spatial datasets while Mysql is being used for editorial contents and blog posts. Besides this, the map digitization software, QGIS/Arc GIS, is being used to digitize the maps from the anloague maps or GPS points. Those maps are virtual online through Geoserver, a powerful open source map server, and Cartodb, that is using for publishing, styling, analyzing, and editing geospatial data from spatial data sources using open standards. Since ODC doesn’t only produce and publish the map layers, but also the various datasets, law records, library records, agreements and other more which have different data structure and metadata, thus to support the low-tech staff members in uploading and managing those datasets easily, CKAN, an open source data management system written mainly in Python, is being used as the back-end Datahub to manage and publish collections of data and resource. CKAN is also integrated with Geoserver to interconnect between the dataset and map layers which are related. About ODC’s website front-end, it is built on the Wordpress, one of the most popular and Open Source Content Management System (CMS) that uses PHP and MySQL as underlying technologies, which is deployed as the user's entry point and where the information and contents from the Wordpress sites and the CKAN data hub is exposed to the user through a own developed plugin that has a series of functionalities to bring content stored in CKAN to Wordpress' UI. On ODC’s website, map explorer is the most interesting page that will tell the story and analyze trends especially when users overlay the relevant map layers. It is also the page that was specially developed by using the Leaflet, an open source JavaScript library, to visualize the spatial data from the Geoserver or Cartodb (a web mapping tools, it was free before, but not now) and integrate with Wordpress and CKAN for interoperability. Furthermore, Datawrapper and Tableau platform have been used for data visualization in our topic pages. To integrate with ODC’s map explorer on front-end, Leaflet to visualize the spatial data as interactive maps. ODC mapper team use QGIS which is an open source mapping tool to create the maps.The ODC website is built on WordPress using the JEO Beta theme and CKAN as back-end for structured data. Datawrapper, an online platform to create beautiful, interactive chart, is used to enhance the visualization of the infographics in our topic pages. Not only the Datawrapper, but ODC also uses Tableau platform to turn static data into interactive data visualization.

Project members

Ms. Heng Huy Eng
Ms. Siv Vatana
Mr. Prum Punwath

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