The Fifth Elephant 2012

Finding the elephant in the data.

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OpenSpending: Data Literacy, Citizen Participation and Government Spending


Lucy Chambers


Ever been curious about how your government spends your tax money?
This session aims to show participants how they can use to explore public spending and hold governments to account. We’ll highlight examples of how others have used it, from tracking Big Brother states, our work in data journalism, myth-busting about government budgets in Hungary, showing the taxpayer how much an individual taxpayer contributes to various spending areas in Slovakia, comparing and contrasting what governments said they would spend with what they actually spent. The session will be a two-way information and idea exchange to brainstorm how to make this information more accessible to those who need it most and encourage them to help in opening up this data.

See it in action, visit:,


The Open Knowledge Foundation builds tools and communities around Open Data. This session will demonstrate, one of the largest open data projects of the foundation and cover how the community work of the Open Knowledge Foundation helps to build foundations for data-driven debates, promotes data-literacy and ensures that the public continues to drive the demand for data internationally.

The release of government financial information is a relatively new phenomenon. To our knowledge no-one has yet collected and collated all of the government financial information in the world in one place as a resource for researchers, journalists, activists, concerned citizens and policymakers the world over… let alone given anybody the power to visualise it… is an open-source online platform which aims to do exactly this. Anyone can contribute, visualise and explore their local government’s data.

This session highlights some of the stories and findings which have come out of the platform to date and walks through how they can use the platform to dig deeper into aspects of the data which really interest them…


If participants bring a web-enabled device, they will be able to trial the features themselves, but this is not a requirement.

Speaker bio

Lucy Chambers is a Community Coordinator at the Open Knowledge Foundation. She works on the OKFN’s project and Spending Stories, a Knight News Challenge Winner 2011 - helping journalists build context around and fact check spending data. She also coordinates the data-driven-journalism activities of the Foundation, running training sessions for journalists on how to find, work with and present data and was one of the editors of the Data Journalism Handbook.