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Open Spending: engaging grassroots community of Kota Damansara public housing

In this blog, we share experiences in running open data workshop with grassroot communities of Kota Damansara public housing

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On 16th April, Community Open Data Workshop was organised for the public housing community of Kota Damansara. It was the first open data workshop to be held with them. The purpose of this workshop was to enable the community to explore the concepts of open data and how open data could benefit them from the ground. The workshop involved discussions and knowledge sharing on:

  1. Reporting issues to AduanKu and to local councilors

  2. Open data topics ranging from availability assessment and quality evaluation to publication

  3. Highlight benefits of opening up data clearly and comprehensively following open standard and open licensing

  4. Jointly craft time action plan and responsibilities in the data publication process and build capacity of users in accessing, analysing, utilizing and contributing data.

School of Data: Data & Dragons character sheet was used for the ice-breaking and introductory session. Followed by introductions to the concepts of Open Data, Open Budgets, Open Standards, Open Licensing, Data Journalism and open data simulation.

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The workshop was facilitated by Hasbeemasputra Abu Bakar who simplified our modules to be mostly jargon free to be relatable to the audience. The open data simulation involves a group activity and it covers 3 scopes:

  1. The gentle introduction of AduanKu and Malaysia CSO Open Data Portal

  2. The problem tree analysis

  3. The big picture analysis.

In problem tree analysis, communities shares few list of problems they face frequently and collectively figure out measurable and realistic solutions to solve each of those problems in real life. The list of problems are as follows:

  1. Garbage

  2. Parking

  3. Safety

  4. Cleanliness

  5. Infrastructure maintenance, specifically lifts

  6. CF (Certificate of Fitness)

  7. Lift insurance

  8. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994) and BOMBA (fire and rescue)

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From the list of problems collected, CF (Certificate of Fitness) is the chosen one to focus on for further discussion in the group activity. The reason to look at CF issue is because in the group activity, participants shares the lack of CF and the ambiguity of ownership of the land seems to be the root cause of the lack of maintenance and any form of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994).

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In big picture analysis, we guide participants in identifying the structures of the government at all levels. Here, participants identifies possible responsible institutions to be held accountable. The institutions that we need to file FOIE (Freedom of Information Enactment) requests to have access to the official documents of CF, lift insurance and OSHA for the Kota Damansara public housing are as follows:

  1. Petaling Jaya City Council

  2. Property and Housing Selangor Sdn Bhd

  3. Property and Housing Selangor Board

  4. Selangor State Exco Iskandar

  5. Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Selangor

Following from our discussion with the community, there are several things that we have learned from this workshop:

  1. Eliminate assumptions by consulting with the community on issues they faced daily

  2. Without the awareness, knowledge and understanding of their situation, the process of identifying budget priorities becomes impossible to hold decision makers accountable for future participatory budgeting sessions

  3. Comprehensive and detailed mapping of budgets against policies are very important and needed to see if both budgets and policies are matched, covered and/or absent

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Story Type: Update

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