The Open Knowledge Foundation

The Open Knowledge FoundationThe Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) is a non-profit organisation, founded in 2004, that aims to promote open data and content. While based in the UK, where it has its registered offices in Cambridge, the OKF supports an active global network. The key goal of the OKF is to make open knowledge a routine and everyday part of life, offline as well as online. The foundation believes that open knowledge will create a world with better governance, culture, research and economy. They emphasise that while open data is good, to become open knowledge it needs to be useful, usable and used. The OKF defines openness as freedom to access, redistribute and reuse material without social, legal or technological restrictions. The OKF is organised into Working Groups, Local Groups and Taskforces.

Working Groups are domain-specific, and let those who are interested in a certain subject gather online or in person to discuss, explore or work on it. Those wishing to join a group can sign up via a mailing list. There are 16 active Working Groups on the site, including Open Science, Open Transport, Open Economics and Open Government Data, with several more incubating groups that have been formed too recently to have their own website.

Local Groups are a network of participants from over 25 nations seeking to develop open knowledge on a geographic basis. The Local and Working groups often collaborate, but Local Groups do further activities such as highlighting local priorities and holding national discussions. They also hold meet-ups in their countries, organised by a Local Ambassador, and each nation has its own website.

Task Forces are used to organise volunteers to help with hands-on tasks. There is a Task Force forum on the OKF website, where activities in progress are detailed and volunteers can sign up to help, from setting up and running a project to smaller tasks such as coding.

The OKF runs numerous projects, some of the most notable being CKAN, School of Data, The Data Journalism Handbook, OpenSpending and the Public Domain Review.

Open source software developers and companies listed here.


CKAN is an open-source data management system. It acts as a global portal for data publishers such as governments, organisations and companies, making tools available to all that make it easy to publish, share, use and find data. CKAN is completely free to download and to use. It is maintained by a full-time team at the OKF who provide full support and hosting.

School of Data

The School of Data is an online teaching resource designed to give everyone the skills needed to use data effectively. It is particularly aimed at journalists and civil society organizations. All the materials are free to use and download, and offline training courses are also offered. The School of Data is led by both the OKF and Peer to Peer University (P2PU).

Data Journalism Handbook

Another resource for journalists is the free, open source Data Journalism Handbook. This had its roots in a workshop at MozFest 2011, and is an international collaboration of many journalists from the New York Times, the BBC, the Guardian, the Chicago Tribune, and other publications. The OKF is working to translate the book into other languages.


Started in 2011, the OpenSpending project aims to track all government and corporate financial transactions around the world to give transparency and make government spending easier for the public to understand. Data can be uploaded to the site to share, and there are map visualizations as well as datasets. The OpenSpending site was inspired by 'Where Does My Money Go?' an earlier OKF project showing where UK taxes are spent. Recent data shared on OpenSpending includes a Cameroon Budget Inquirer, a Uganda Aid Visualisation, and OffenerHaushalt, which explores Germany's Federal budget since 2006.

The Public Domain Review

Works of art, music and literature that have fallen out of copyright are displayed on the not-for-profit Public Domain Review. The website aims to act as an exhibition gallery for collections of images, audio and film, and the site also shares articles and publishes a fortnightly email newsletter. The site works alongside another OKF project, Open GLAM, which promotes access to digital material held by museums, libraries, galleries and archives. OpenGLAM also runs workshops and provides information to cultural institutions wishing to share their data and content.

The OKF organised the OKfestival in 2012, which was held in Helsinki, Finland and attracted over 1,000 participants in person and 12,000 online. Prior to this, two annual gatherings, OGDCamp and OKCon had been held, and OKfestival merged these. The festival encouraged visitors to participate in various workshops, brainstorming sessions and discussions, with the theme 'Open Knowledge in Action'.

The Open Knowledge Foundation can be accessed at It is on Facebook,, and Twitter, @OKFN.