Category Archives: Events

Mumbai’s Data Meet Kicks Off With A Bang

Written by Sanjit Oberai
Mumbai’s first Data Meet kicked off on 30th August at the Sardar Patel Institute of Technology with a total of  26 people attending the event.  It started off with a round of introduction by all the attendees which was a mix comprising developers, journalists, students and data enthusiasts. 
There was an introduction by Ritvvij, who is the founder of Pykih, where he spoke about how important it is to have a data group in Mumbai. ( Listen to the recording here
The first talk was by Ajaj Kelkar (above) , who is the  Cofounder  and he gave an introduction to how the recent movement of Open Data started about 5-7 years back in the US as there was  a need to move data from the private space into public space, and this was possible by the the active push seen by transparency groups.  This idea spread and many progressive countries realised that this can be a powerful movement which can be used for public good.   
Data can be used to help take decisions on the social or personal platforms. He highlighted that there are barriers and we need to overcome them.  He explained how many cities abroad have appointed Chief Data Officers whose jobs is to monitor data in each city i.e. municipality budgets, etc. 
An important point also spoken about was on Privacy.  As consumers we are leaving a lot of data out there on social media platforms. However, in the absence of proper laws, we need to be careful about what we put out there and this needs to an area where we need to think carefully about.
The second talk was by Ritvvij, founder of who explained the importance of how one should visualise. He emphasised that a lot of people are not aware of how to use correct tools to visualise data and the most common mistake people make is with the humble PIE CHART. He further went onto explain the process of visualisation mistakes that many news organisations are making today and what they could do to improve their charts/graphs
He also gave examples of his recent work with where he made custom visualisations for them for the elections and the IPL.  He also worked with . 
He also spoke about the issues most journalist face when dealing with government data and how difficult it was for them to have access to it.  He ended by stating that there was a dire need for a tool that could become the CMS for data journalism there by allowing journalists to focus on the story rather than doing data janitorial work. 
The third talk was by Sanjit Oberai, Deputy Editor of IndiaSpend, a non-profit that uses data to tell stories. He spoke about how there are tonnes of stories buried in government data and how to write articles around that. He spoke about how they research articles, what are the sources of data and how one can visualise data using free to use tools like Data Wrapper, Knoema, Tableau, etc.
 He also spoke about a new initiative called Fact Check which can be used to bring about accountability and raise the common man’s awareness. He cited examples about the Goa MLAs who were going to Brazil and how that created quite a stir with the Congress calling this a wasteful expenditure.  A quick factcheck was done to see the assets declared by them in the sworn affidavits provided by the candidates before the legislative elections in 2012.
 He also spoke of a Data Room which would be a first its kind resource for students, journalists and researchers that will allow comparison of state wise data like population, health, education, etc.
The last talk was by Srinivas Kodali, an IIT-Madras graduate, who is researching with transport data of cities. He explained how one could scrap data from websites and demoed tools like Selenium for scraping from sites that generate data on the fly using AJAX. However, Selenium is a front-end tool typically used for testing and requires a browser session open. Hence, it cannot be used for large scale scrapping. Then he went on to show case PhantomJS that would allow scrapping  as Selenium would but in a Headless fashion i.e. without the browser UI.
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The next meeting with be held at the end of September. Details will be posted on the site soon.

GeoBLR – PIN Code Extravaganza!

Last week at GeoBLR we discussed the issues around PIN codes. The most  important questions were around the processes the postal system and also what are the issues around the availability of reliable spatial data.

Couple of weeks back, Nisha and I started putting together several questions that we would like to get insights on. We used that as the starting point for the discussions. The meat of the problem really is that nobody knows what the processes are and how to get that information.

Prior to GeoBLR, we met some people who are interested in the same issue and clarified a lot of things – for instance, we are now sure that some times a single post office can deal with more than one PIN code.

To get a sense how people felt about the PIN codes issues, we asked around. Some people don’t bother to use PIN codes for any substantial service other than sending post cards.  As long as we are not able to tie PIN codes to geographic locations reliably, it’s not so useful.  Everybody agrees that it has immense potential just because it’s the only part of the address that everybody gets right (most of the time).

We also started to brainstorm how to come up with a plan so that a group like ours along with several other partners could work together to attempt to crowdsource the issue. Read more about the plan and next steps here!

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Screening: The Internet’s Own Boy – Aaron Swartz Documentary and discussions

All of us on DataMeet group are aware of Aaron Swartz. So I thought it would be a great idea to watch it together and share ideas. Hence we are screening the movie coming thursday. Please make it if possible. RSVP on the meetup page. If you can’t make it. The movie is on for everyone to download and watch. You can also visit the movie project page for more details.

Screening: The Internet’s Own Boy – Aaron Swartz Documentary

Thursday, Aug 28, 2014, 6:30 PM

ThoughtWorks Technologies
Ground Floor, ACR Mansion, 147/f, 8th Main Road, 3rd Block, Koramangala, Bangalore – 560034 Bangalore, IN

24 DMers Went

For the August Meetup we will be screening the Aaron Swatz documentary “The Internet’s Own Boy” we will have a short discussion on the Indian experience around open access and what we can learn.WIth the advent of the Goonda Act and other vague policies regarding who owns knowledge created using pu…

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Notes from DataMeet-Up in Delhi, 31 July 2014

After a long hiatus, we had a DataMeet-Up in Delhi on Friday, July 31. Thanks to the Centre for Internet and Society for hosting us.

The meet-up had a small but very productive mix of old and new faces. Here is the list of participants:

* Deeptanshu
* Guneet Narula, Sputznik
* Isha Parihar, Akvo Foundation
* Namrata Mehta, Center for Knowledge Societies
* Praachi Misra, Competition Commission of India
* Rajat Das, Contify
* Riju / Sumandro Chattapadhyay,
* Rohith Jyotish, Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability
* Shobha SV, Breakthrough

We started with a round of ‘what is DataMeet’ and moved into ‘what should DataMeet do in Delhi.’ Here are the suggestions that came up in the meeting:

1. Data Liberartion Strategy: We can work towards creating a strategy and workflow to undertake data liberation tasks. These tasks can focus on two types of data – (1) data that is not available in public yet and needs to be brought out by requesting the authorities concerned and/or speaking to them about it, and (2) data that is available in public but not in an open / directly-usable / machine-readable manner. We of course have done some work towards especially the second type of data, such as with MP constituency boundaries shapefile and with scraping of weather data. It will be useful to prepare and document strategies for such tasks.

Deeptanshu suggested that an important available-but-not-machine-readable data that we can work with in near future is the proceedings of the parliament published in the parliament’s website. We can possibly speak to ADR and PRS if they have done any work towards converting that data to machine-readable formats.

2. Learning and Sharing: We felt that DataMeet should undertake pedagogic functions – from internal training / sharing sessions within the DataMeet members, to public workshops for data and visualisation tools and techniques, to online documentation of the same. It seems that the existing (regular or otherwise) members of Delhi chapter of DataMeet is a good mix of those who look forward to pick up data / visualisation / programming skills and those who can offer to teach that. Often the latter group looks forward to learn about available datasets, ways of interpreting government data (from NSSO to budget sheets), and legal considerations associated with data — all of this the former group (who wants to learn data / visuaisation / programming skills) can offer to help with. Hence it make a lot of sense to convert our monthly meet-ups into short learning and sharing sessions.

Further, we can document the learning and sharing taking place in the meet-ups and put it up as online references. This will slowly create a knowledge base, with contributions from across the city chapters. There was a short discussion if we should use a Wiki to create such a knowledge base or a WordPress blog. The programming group is more comfortable with the former, while the non-programming group is more comfortable with the latter. With WordPress providing detailed ‘edit history,’ I guess it is alright to use WordPress for the sake of general ease of use.

Let us start the documentation over the next 3-4 meet-ups and think of what is the best way to upload it – either as a section of DataMeet blog / wiki / github or a sub-site.

3. DataMeet-Ups as Tiny Hackathons: It was suggested that on each DataMeet-Up, we take up a particular task — either of data liberation or of data visualisation — and focus on a particular topic and dataset, and spend time together working on the task. This will include thinking about the task, creating a workflow, sharing the skills concerned, and doing the task. And finally we showcase the work done through the DataMeet blog and elsewhere.

Further, this will also produce visible evidence of the government data made available at the portal being actually used, and thus to raise awareness of the available data and its demand.

4. Legal and Policy Discussion: It was briefly mentioned that some members of the group often face questions related to legal and policy context of open government data, and also regarding opening of non-governmental data. We should look for resource persons and organisations to advise on such issues. The DataMeet mailing list can also function as a primary discussion space for these topics. However, the mailing list can be too public a space for certain discussions.

Open Data Camp Delhi 2014

We had an initial chat about organising the Open Data Camp in Delhi in November 2014. The date and venue discussion is pending. We will take that up in the next DataMeet-Up.

The two primary objectives of the Open Data Camp Delhi are (1) a social and networking event for open data people (who are talking about and/or working with open data ) in Delhi, and (2) learn about their interests and challenges and prepare the road plan for Delhi chapter of DataMeet. Clearly, the first objective is more community-facing, and the second one is DataMeet-facing.

Here is the draft agenda for the Open Data Camp Delhi:

09:30-10:00 Ice-Breaker
10:00-10:30 Open Data and DataMeet [What is open data? What is DataMeet? Why is DataMeet? Why is open data relevant?]
10:30-11:30 Lightning Talks #1 [6 talks of 8 minutes each]
11:30-12:00 Tea/Coffee
12:00-13:00 Lightning Talks #2 [6 talks of 8 minutes each]
13:00-14:00 Lunch
14:00-16:00 Open Data Matchmaking Session [We set up two boards at the beginning of the day. One for writing down what data project one has in mind and what skills are required, and the other for writing down what data skills one can offer. On the basis of this, people meet up during the matchmaking session and talk about their plans.]
16:00-17:00 Closing and Thanks followed by Tea/Coffee
17:00-18:00 DataMeet Roadmap Discussion [Open to anyone who wants to participate]

It was suggested that lightning talks should be chosen as a combination of directly selected (by organisers) and community selected (through a submission and voting mechanism) modes.

DataMeet-Up in August 2014

We planned the next Delhi DataMeet-Up to take place on Wednesday, August 27, afternoon, where we will work on visualising datasets related to budget 2014. Rohith from CBGA, and his colleagues, will help us select the datasets and interpret them.

The venue is yet to be decided. Possible options are Akvo, CKS, Sarai, and Youth Ki Awaaz. Maybe CBGA can host it too.

Further, this also works as a warm-up session towards the Hack the Budget event being organised by World Bank in September.

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IIMB Policy Hackathon, 2014

Looks like a great event for thos who are interested in Open Data and civic hacking.


Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore invites you to the third edition of the IIMB Policy Hackathon on the 9th and 10th of August, 2014. IIMB Policy Hackathon seeks to use analysis and coding skills amongst the larger public to generate ideas and tools for better governance and to develop more relevant public policy. It provides an exciting opportunity to contribute to innovative solutions to public policy challenges and even win a prize for it.

We have two parallel hacking events this year:

The Policy Hack is a team event focused on developing data based policy responses to a policy issue. Participants are given access to a nationally representative dataset (e.g. Census of India, National Sample Survey Data, District Level Health Surveys, etc.) and have 24 hours to identify a policy challenge and develop a data-based solution to it. Participants are required to analyze, code, and offer data based solutions to policy challenges in a 5 page document.

The App for Governance is also a team event where we look at developing technology tools (web portals, mobile apps, and in general, software solutions) that seeks to leverage information from ordinary users that is crowd-sources to strengthen governance and public service delivery. Participants will be given a problem statement that poses a significant governance challenge at the start of the App Hack and will be expected to develop, in 24 hours, a technology-based solution to address it.


2-2:30 pm, 9th August 2014 : Team Registration
3:00 pm, 9th August 2014 : Teams begin Hacking
3:00 pm, 10th August 2014 : Teams submit their work
2:30 pm, 12th August 2014 : Top teams present their work
12.00 pm, 13th August 2014 : Winners Announcement & Prize Distribution


Participants may register in teams of 3-4, or register as a solo participant and join a team at the venue on 9th August. There is also the option to pre-register by writing to There is no fee for registration.

Prizes for each event:

Winner: Rs. 40,000
First Runners Up: Rs. 20,000
Second Runners Up: Rs. 10,000
Shortlisted teams will be invited to present at the conference.

The event starts on 9th afternoon at 2:00 pm and ends on 10th August 2014. Please spread the word in your networks and join us on Facebook.[1] If you are interested in participating, please pre-register via email with the following details:

Team Name:

# of Team Members:
Contact Name:
Contact #:

For more information, please write to Looking forward to your participation in the event.

CPP Hackathon Organizing Team

Sridhar Pabbisetty (Namma Bengaluru Foundation)
Arnab Mukherji (IIM Bangalore)
Grant Miller (Stanford University)
CPP Conference | Find Us on Facebook

DataMeetUp – Bangalore – July/2014

Its been quite sometime that we had a physical meetup in Bangalore. We are planning to host one this month end, i.e on Thursday, July 31, from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Like all our previous monthly meetups, we have a rough plan

Main Talk: Large Scale Telephonic Polls for Real Time Data Collection
Thejesh GN will share his experiences about conducting large scale telephonic polls for real time data collections.
This could be employed for
– Exit poll conducting
– Real time sentiment gathering during the events like Budget
He will share his experiences, learnings and tips.

Group updates – DataMeet group updates and discussions related to future plans.

If you like to show your data project or talk about it. Let us know we will add it to the schedule.

Please do RSVP on our Meetup group. It helps us in planning the event.

July 2014 – Bangalore – Meetup

Thursday, Jul 31, 2014, 7:00 PM

Ashoka Innovators for the Public
54, 1st Cross, Domlur Layout

26 Members Attending

Main Talk: Large Scale Telephonic Polls for Real Time Data CollectionThejesh GN will share his experiences about conducting large scale telephonic polls for real time data collections.This could be employed for- Exit poll conducting- Real time sentiment gathering during the events like BudgetHe will share his experiences, learnings and tips….

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Ashoka Innovators for the Public

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The GeoBLR Sprint 1 – July 3, 6pm – 8pm

I’m excited to announce the first GeoBLR Sprint! The event is happening at The Center for Internet and Society on July 3, 6pm – 8pm. (RSVP)

During the July meetup, we are asking participants to bring their problems around maps and spatial data to the event. Some of Bangalore’s own data experts will be at the event, who will engage in a two hour problem solving exercise with the participants.

Have some map data that needs cleaning? Trouble with map projections or data formats? Looking for some data but not quite sure where to find it? Difficulty choosing colours for your map? May be we can help!

We encourage participants to get in touch with us prior to the event to talk about the issues that they would like to preset. Write to us on, or post a comment on our Meetup group, or write to me (me at sajjad dot in). We will select couple of  challenging problems and will recommend solutions for others.

GeoBLR Sprint 1!

Thursday, Jul 3, 2014, 6:00 PM

The Center for Internet and Society
No. 194, Second ‘C’ Cross, Domlur 2nd Stage

10 Mappers Attending

The July meetup is the first GeoBLR Sprint. We are asking people to bring their problems around maps and spatial data to the event and we will collectively try and solve some of them.Unlike a casual discussion, we will engage in actually doing something that’s meaningful for all of us and learn from everyone around us.If you have an interesting…

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See you at the event!

The Center for Internet and Society

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If you are curious to know more about GeoBLR and why we are doing it, I wrote about it here.

Parliamentary Constituency maps of India

One of the most often requested data on DataMeet email list is PC boundary maps of India. Election commission of India has it, but part of it is old and also is in PDF format. In the recent ODCBLR hackathon coming up with PC boundary maps was one of the biggest hackathon tasks. A group of talented hackers worked on it. Just after the hackathon Sajjad released it on our email list. Its available on GitHub in the form of shape file.


You can contribute to the project by verifying it, correcting it if required. It’s generally good idea to fork the repository and send the pull request. You can also download the files directly if you are not interested in repository.

The shape files are very detailed and hence very huge (~30MB). It’s a great source if you are importing into PostGIS to do any kind of processing. If you are looking for online usage, then try to simplify it before using.