The African News Innovation Challenge winners have been announced, and among the victors is openAFRICA, a semantic toolkit for analyzing access to information requests. According to the team behind the project, openAFRICA aims to "Create a standardised digital management toolkit for African freedom-of-information organisations and investigative journalists, on top of a pan-African semantic document repository."
Asked to describe the real world challenges that their project solves, the creators stated, "Journalists and citizens routinely ‘liberate’ government information when they make successful requests using access to information laws. But, this information immediately disappears again from public consciousness, because it is not digitally captured in a centralised, searchable, public repository. Public knowledge therefore remains fragmented, with media and civic watchdogs constantly 'reinventing the wheel'."
They continue, "openAFRICA will give African citizens a streamlined, user-friendly portal for submitting questions to government authorities. Stitching together best-of-class technology platforms, it will seamlessly merge Avaleteli’s public interface with the award-winning DocumentCloud repository. This will allow journalists and civic watchdogs to conduct advanced forensic research on data released by government, including entity extraction and social network analysis. Making these two platforms interoperable will make them significantly more powerful, globally. openAFRICA will then build newfunctionality on top of DocumentCloud, by creating a community or ‘social layer’ so citizens can actively curate collections of documents, and build communities of interested citizens around themes / topics / documents."
Image: Courtesy ANIC