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Sister Analyst Works to Tackle Air Pollution with Open Data in Belgrade

Four women in a room.
Written by
Published on
September 5, 2020

This post is part of our series on the Open Heroines Community Events Fund to support local or international OH meetups on gender and the intersection of data/open government/civic tech.

It was written by Tatjana Kecojevic, founder of SisterAnalyst, a Serbian non-profit working to empower women in the tech & data science space. Tatjana shares the results of their first-ever Open Heroines event, what they learned and their plans for replicating the success.

In Serbia, women hold close to 38% of the seats in the parliament, which is above the global average of just under 25% of women MPs. In January 2020, Serbia stepped up its efforts even more — with a minimum quota of 40% of candidates on electoral lists to be women.

Despite this progress, Serbia still has a long way to go to create a conducive legal framework for gender equality. Building on this year’s momentum, we felt that it was a great time to use our workshop to help spread social awareness of the importance of open data and gender work in the country.

For our first-ever Open Heroines event here in Belgrade, we wanted to attract a wide range of participants who believe in democracy through open data, going further than just opening up that data to use that data to its full potential. We chose a subject highly relevant to everyone in Belgrade: air pollution levels (sourced from Vazduh Gradjanima). We got things started by setting clear expectations for participants through the workshop objectives and programme:

Participants in the workshop will be introduced to different ways of accessing Open Data and will be able to engage in the necessary steps of wrangling and preparation of data for analysis.

As such, they’ll be given the opportunity to familiarise themselves with typical tools used in data analysis processes. All of this will be illustrated through an example of working with air quality data, which has been a focal point of recent discussions of many Serbian citizens.

The participants will also be able to learn how to communicate the results in a transparent and engaging way by creating dynamic documents and info graphics. Additionally, all participants will be instructed to the Open Data Challenge platform where they can find the material and learn further to create a free hosting website for the resulting blog posts of their data analysis narratives using HUGO and blogdown.

Using air quality data as an example, participants focused on illustrating the process of the democratisation of open data. A wide range of participants attended the workshop. From economists to journalists, students to CEOs, the desire to understand more about the power of data acted as the adhesive that bound our group together.

We created R-Markdown reports where the participants created visual data reporting of the core issues connected to air pollution. Participants greatly appreciated the opportunity to learn how to interact with data. In the spirit of transparency and reproducibility, we’ve uploaded our findings to GitHub.

With such a diverse group of participants, we hoped to make the workshop as interactive as possible. People with all different levels of coding ability attended, all helping each other out, and the final section of the workshop was set aside for networking. The discussions were overwhelmingly centred on when we could gather for another event; a sign of a successful workshop.

Moving forward, we’re looking into how we can develop this initiative into a sustainable open data-training platform that looks at all different kinds of relevant topics in Serbia and globally. Stay tuned with Sister Analyst as we look ahead to the next phase of this program’s evolution, and to helping open data and gender initiatives grow.

To get involved with Sister Analyst, check out their website and follow them on LinkedIn and Twitter @sisteranalyst. They’d love to hear from new collaborators!

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