WHO IS RODERICK BESSELING?
Roderick Besseling is the Open Data Coordinator within the Corporate Strategy Unit at Cordaid in the Netherlands. In this role, Roderick brings together his expertise in design, development and data analysis and is responsible for taking a leading position in the open development movement within the international development sector. His primary focus areas are the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) reporting process and embedding the open development philosophy within Cordaid. He is a passionate advocate of the open development movement and believes that only through cooperation and collaboration among different stakeholders can sustainable solutions be developed and the aid dependency cycle be broken.
You can connect with Roderick here:
IN TOR 082 YOU’LL LEARN ABOUT:
- Roderick’s mission about technology and reporting standards in project inputs, outcomes and performance.
- What the IATI means in terms of openness and transparency across organizations.
- The Open Data Movement, risks and rewards and its progress inside the industry.
- Why having information available is not enough; and the role of usability and centralization.
- Technical aspects of the IATA XML standard.
- How Roderick maintains his motivation despite “not being close to the action” in development work.
OUR CONVERSATION INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING:
- The International Aid Transparency Initiative — IATI
- United Network of Young Peacebuilders — UNOY
- University of Nottingham — International Relations Policy Programme
- Open Development Movement
- Open development
- Development reporting standards
- IATI reporting standards and XML reporting tools
- IT capacity building and data literacy
- Intellectual property and confidential information in open data frameworks
- La Hague, The Netherlands
EPISODE CRIB NOTES
1914, Recently celebrated 100 year anniversary.
Increasing commitments with Open Data.
Roderick coordinates Open initiatives. IATI is the largest global commitment to openness and transparency.
Use of public funds are not always available
We don’t have documenting standards, locations, insights, partners.
We don’t see inputs and outputs.
We were not openly proud about what we were doing. We’re becoming to acknowledged.
Was working at United Network of Young Peace Builders — UNOY, involving youth in conflict resolution.
Roderick came across the position, did not know a position with the mix of skills existed (programmatic and technical).
Lived all across Europe.
Tried computer science and economics, end up in hospitality.
Reached a point of wanting to give more.
The moment: the social aspect of running a restaurant was ok, just not enough.
It was a matter of going back to university. International Relations Policy at Nottingham University, which is not the road for everyone.
A Master’s leaves you with more questions than solutions.
Open Data Rationales
There are reservations, and it is confusing for organizations.
There are concerns about privacy.
It’s all about the advantages of transparency.
Cordaid has a large data sheet for organizations to compare, that is, take advantage of embracing Open Data.
Shifts and Open Data Today
Roderick took over from two consultants inside the organization.
Information is usually scattered, he centralizes it, makes it accessible.
Part cheerleading, part click-and-drag.
Data quality is very important.
Quarterly reporting, in Cordaid pillars: fundraising, communications, programming.
Interaction with program managers, units of risk analysis.
Data has allowed them to recognize risk factors in international projects.
Open Data backlashes
There are logging mistakes, but people tend to see it early and provide feedback. Roderick is keen to make corrections promptly.
The IATI team and framework
XML-based form to describe a project, including objectives, locations, budgets, outcomes.
Ready for development organizations.
The more spread use, the wealthier and standardized development data.
Organizations report quarterly.
The XML format allows filling out several services (Cordaid’s is a Microsoft back end solution).
Pitching IATI for the non-large and non-technical
There is a mental barrier.
“It’s just a MS Word document with fields to fill out.“
It’s financially accessible. There are several solutions for storage and reporting.
Selling point: the more data you have the more useful it is for you (and everyone).
Compatible with OECD standards and codes, topic tags.
Rod’s future at Cordaid
It’s all about the Open Development Movement, and data literacy.
Standardization is their mission.
On-demand annual reporting, takes data from connected datasets automatically.
Infrastructure work, laying ground for future projects, particularly in the developing world.
Time will come for capacity building around the world. Roderick is setting himself up to it (with the help of all the other ‘geeks’ in development around the world).
Intellectual Property and Confidential Information issues
IATI is not about revealing compensation, but the projects themselves and impact.
Open Data does not negate confidentiality or proprietary info.
It’s all about letting people know about project and organizational achievements.
Finding inspiration for IT grunt work
Roderick would like to be on the field more often than it’s possible.
He gets to speak with all kinds of people, has become an advocate and thought leader.
Lots of presentations, speaking arrangements and conferences.
Advice for transition people
It’s about passion, finding inspiration, but also a niche in the market.
A role model of his: Patrick Meyer.
The field is still very open: logistics, networking, data science.
Please share, participate and leave feedback below!
If you have any feedback you’d like to share for me or Roderick, please leave your thoughts in the comment section below! I read all of them and will definitely take part in the conversation.
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