Step Up Team Wins Research Grant

encite OGD logoStep Up is among the five researchers/research teams granted with research funds by the Open Government Partnership (OGP) to undertake a study on the best method to build the capacity of civil society organizations on open government data. The action research entitled “Enhancing Citizen Engagement with Open Government Data” will be implemented in the next three months and is aimed at identifying the best approach to use in increasing citizen engagement with local governments through data sets published online.

The Step Up proposal was one of the more than 80 proposals screened by the OGP’s Open Data Working Group.  Among the proposals submitted, Step Up made it to the top five, together with Open North, Inc of Canada, Mitrovic Development and Research Institute of South Africa, Mark Frank of the United Kingdom, and Sunlight Foundation of the United States. Step Up is the only research team from Asia.

The announcement from OGP can be found here.

Step Up Presents Research in 8th ICEGOV – Portugal

Michael Canares with other members of the ODDC network
Michael Canares with other members of the ODDC network

Michael Canares, managing consultant of Step Up Consulting Services, presented his research entitled – “Full Disclosure Policy and its Impact on Local Governance in the Philippines”, in the recently concluded International Conference on the Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance held in the historic city of Gumaraes, Portugal. The research paper was one of the outputs of the Open LGU Research Project which Step Up implemented in 2013.

Mr. Canares also facilitated the session on Open Data Intermediaries together with Sumandro Chattapadhyay of Data Meet India. The study on Open Data intermediaries is one of the Web Foundation-funded synthesis papers on Open Data in Developing Countries research that Step Up manages together with a team of researchers from India and South Africa.  In the session, Mr. Canares was joined by other members of the Open Data Research Network – Leo Mutuko of Ihub (Kenya), Sandra Elena of CIPPEC (Argentina), and Ricardo Matheus of Brazil.

ICEGOV is a series of International Conferences on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance taking place annually around the world. The series focuses on the use of technology to transform the working of government and its relationships with citizens, businesses and other non-state actors in order to improve public governance and its contribution to public policy and development (EGOV).

The ICEGOV conference series is coordinated by the United Nations University Operating Unit on Policy-Driven Electronic Governance (UNU-EGOV), based in Guimarães, Portugal, in continuation of the work of the Center for Electronic Governance at UNU-IIST in Macao, China, which founded the ICEGOV series.

Step Up presents result of Open LGU Study to Bohol

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Step Up Consulting Services presented the result of its study “Opening the Gates: Will Open Data Initiatives Make Local Governments in the Philippines More Transparent?” or Open LGU Research Project in a Presentation and Validation Workshop held in the afternoon of February 25, 2014 at the MetroCentre Hotel and Convention Center. The research team, composed of Mr. Michael Canares, Ms. Mariejoe Narca and Ms. Jare Arawiran, presented to an audience of 40 representatives from different civil society groups and the government sector of the Province of Bohol, who were the identified stakeholders of Open Data, some of whom are among the respondents of the research.

The team presented its key findings highlighting, among others, that Bohol fully complies with the Full Disclosure Policy (FDP) of DILG by posting required governmental information in its website. Also, Bohol provides more information in its website about local governance affairs than what is required. For example, the province posts its Provincial Atlas, a collection of maps and other relevant information that is useful for decision-making processes not only for governments but also for investors in its website. However, Bohol only achieves five of the ten criteria for open data. Relevant governance data exists. The data is available in digital form. The data is available free of charge and is up-to-date and it is easy to find information on the data set. However, data cannot be reused as it is not machine readable. The budget files, for example, are in PDF and needs to be converted into other forms (e.g. Excel spreadsheets) to allow a user to analyse the data.

On the part of the citizen groups, most of the civil society groups are not yet aware of the existence of the FDP. Thus, the different organisations did not look for documents in the provincial government’s website. As a result, information provided by Bohol in its website is hardly used by citizen groupsThere are at least three reasons for this. First, they are not aware that the data exists in the website. Second, they are not interested with the information provided.  Third, even when the information is provided, they do not have the technical knowledge to understand and use the documents for their benefit.

The recent event earned as much enthusiasm from its audience as it did during the project launch in July this year. The activity did not only become a venue for the stakeholders / respondents to hear and validate the results of the study, it also gave the aud ience an opportunity to express their insights, hopes and commitments for a genuinely transparent governance.

The research team is set to do two separate provincial presentations in South Cotabato and Bulacan, the other two study sites and a national presentation for the three provincial sites in Manila within this quarter and the next of 2014.

Open Data Team Holds Analysis Workshop

IMG_00000451_hdr (2) The Open Data Team of Step Up Consulting held a data analysis workshop last 21-22 December 2013 at the Dao Diamond Hotel. The workshop aimed at synthesizing fieldwork results of two case studies of the research project “Opening the Gates: Will Open Data Initiatives Make Local Governments in the Philippines More Transparent?”. (For more details of the project, please see http://www.lguopendata.ph/.

The Open Data team composed of Jare Arawiran, Marilou Sale, Marijoe Narca, and Joseph de Guia discussed the findings of the fieldwork conducted in Bohol and South Cotabato and reflected on the answers to the research questions gathered from the two sites as well as from documents review.  The research will still have to visit the third case study site (Bulacan) in the first quarter of 2014.

This research project is one of the 17 case studies across the globe and is part of the Exploring the Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries (ODDC).  This project aims to to establish practical and actionable knowledge about effective strategies for employing open data as means to achieve greater quality of openness in government, support citizens’ rights, and promote more inclusive development in developing countries.

The funding for this work has been provided through the World Wide Web Foundation ‘Exploring the Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries’ research project, supported by grant 107075 from Canada’s International Development Research Centre (web.idrc.ca). Find out more at www.opendataresearch.org/emergingimpacts

Step Up Evaluates SWCF Project in Batuan

Mrs Marcela Dapar
Mrs. Marcela Dapar, a beneficiary of the SWCF project. Image courtesy of DISOP.

Step Up Consulting Services was contracted by the Soil and Water Conservation Foundation (SWCF) to conduct the terminal evaluation of a three–year project on income generation, community organization strengthening, and environmental management funded by DISOP and Misereor, two European-based NGOs.  The project, “Employability and Capability Building of Farmes in Selected Barangays of Batuan Bohol” aims, that by the end of 2013, the livelihood and sustainable income of members of the communities in 7 barangays along the Makapiko River and its tributaries in Batuan Municipality of Bohol is secured for the long term.  It also strengthens previously assisted organizations of SWCF in the Eskaya communities in Sierra Bullones, Pilar, Garcia Hernandez, and Guindulman.

All seven barangays directly assisted have people’s organization, mostly in the form of cooperatives and associations. The five of the organizations are considered weak in their structure, have limited membership, and are not very stable as a potential source of income, training, reasonable credit and entrepreneurship development for the community. In most areas there is poor implementation of environment laws that has led to environmental degradation in terms of chemical pollution (pesticide and commercial fertilizer), solid waste pollution, removal of forest cover, biodiversity loss through hunting and collection of flora and fauna and disturbance of local caves and their resources.  All these activities are magnified when done on karst because of the very nature of the geological formation itself.

To respond to these concerns, the project aims to achieve three objectives, to wit;

  1. Associations/NGOs are capacitated to manage their affairs and link among themselves and other stakeholders to create a sustainable and conducive environment for securing their livelihoods.
  2. Agricultural and non- agricultural enterprises for the local residents, especially those who are now below the poverty line are newly created and strengthened.
  3. Project beneficiaries are better capacitated to deal with adverse affects of climate, political and social disturbances as well as able to reverse the environmental degradation of their natural resources.
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Alvin Luis Acuzar, Evaluation Team Leader

Mr. Alvin Luis Acuzar, former associate of Step Up manages the evaluation project.  Alvin is currently the Executive Director of the Bol-anon United Sectors Working for the Advancement of Community Concerns (BUSWACC).  He is joined by Doreen Lerin, Marilou Sale, Lorebien Lagapa, Arlen Salgados-Canares, and Edaline Bolotaulo, all seasoned community researchers of Step Up with more than five years of experience in development evaluation.

This evaluation has three objectives:

  1. To evaluate the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and outcomes of the project to the situation of targeted people and groups in the community, with particular focus on farmers and their families.
  2. To evaluate the effectiveness of the projects in view of their objectives and to analyse the sustainability of the project results
  3. To assess the roles and contributions of the different stakeholders in the implementation of the project

Project evaluation is one of the core services of Step Up.  In the past, Step Up has been engaged by Kindernothilfe Germany, World Vision Philippines, Fundacion Ipade (Spain), and SABIC (Belgium), Simag Foundation, Cebu Uniting for Sustainable Water, and other organizations engaged in development work in the country and elsewhere.

The project evaluation started in July and will end in September this year.

Step Up Represented in ODDC Meeting in London

MPC with Tim Berners LeeMichael Canares, Team Leader of the Open LGU Research Project attended the first network meeting of the Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries (ODDC Project)  Research Project in London.  In this photo, Michael Canares is with Tim Berners-Lee and the researchers from De La Salle University, Manila, who are also part of the ODDC project.  Tim Berners Lee invented the world wide web in 1989 and is the founding director of the World Wide Web Foundation, the implementer of the ODDC project.

The network meeting was held at the Open Data Institute in London, United Kingdom last 24-25 April, 2013.  It was an an opportunity for project leaders of the 17 projects to get to know each other, and to explore shared research issues in understanding emerging impacts of open data.

 

The participants also attended an evening reception prior to the meeting at the Lancaster House co-hosted by the Open Government Partnership steering committee.  At this reception, Web Foundation founder, and Web inventor, Sir Tim Berner-­Lee formally launched the ODDC project and expressed the importance and potential contribution of the research to the work of the Open Government partnership, more particularly in exploring issues related to the use of open government data across the globe.

While in London, Mr. Canares also took the opportunity to attend the symposium on Data Driven Public Services hosted by Future Gov and sponsored by Capita. In this symposium, examples of how data can be effectively used to deliver services on the part of governments, or demand for better service delivery, on the part of citizens and neighborhoods.

 

 

Step Up Implements Open LGU Research Project.

logoStep Up Consulting Services is one of the implementers of a global research project “Exploring the Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries”.  The project is a “multi-country, multi-year study led by the World Wide Web Foundation to understand how open data is being put to use in different countries and contexts across the developing world.”

Step Up’s proposal was one of the 17 research projects conducted across the world, and the second in the Philippines. The research project is entitled “Opening the Gates: Will Open Data Initiatives Make Local Governments in the Philippines More Transparent?” or otherwise known as the “Open LGU Research Project” looks at how the sharing of governance information online has impacted on local government systems, and how the information and data has been accessed and used by civil society representatives and intermediary groups. The project will identify policies and processes that could support the Philippines to more fully realise an open government data agenda for local government, and will identify challenges currently faced in the supply and use of local government data.

The project expects to contribute to the Department of Interior and Local Government’s efforts regarding the Full Disclosure Policy (FDP), as this would be the first time that a study of this scale will be conducted to know how local government compliance to the FDP has impacted on local governance, more particularly in three provinces across the country.

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Step Up Welcomes 2 New Associates

Step Up Consulting Services welcomes two new associates who will form part of its roster of consultants and will join the firm in an upcoming research project.

Mr. Joseph de Guia holds a masters degree in information technology from the Carnegie Mellon University in Australia.  He is currently the Knowledge Management and Business Analyst of PRMF, a facility supported by the Australian Agency for International Development. Mr. de Guia is a Dell certified systems expert and a Dell certified advance  resolution expert and has an extensive experience in application development, database administration, web development, content management, and project and process modelling. Mr. de Guia is also a chemical engineer and an information technology graduate and has taught at Mapua Institute of Technology since 2006. Mr. de Guia’s research work on electronic health records and government enterprise architecture has been presented in international conferences. He has also worked as project manager in Australia on enterprise architecture development, asset management, CRM, and patient record management system.

Ms. Jaremilleta Arawiran is a Phd candidate at the University of San Carlos (USC) in Cebu City with Research and Evaluation as her field of study. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from the Ateneo de Manila University, a masters degree in Mathematics at USC, and has taught mathematics and statistics at Holy Name University since 2003. Ms. Arawiran has extensive research experience as a statistician in different research projects, more notably the Bohol Poll (an annual provincial public opinion polling system) and municipal planning monitoring of local government units.  Ms. Arawiran is a sought-after speaker on different mathematics, statistics, and research topics more particularly on sampling, research design, assessment and questionnaire construction, data analysis, SPSS, and public opinion polling. She is a member of the Philippine Statistical Society and the National Council on Measurement of Education.