The project goal is to improve institutional transparency and functionality for citizens and other stakeholders through the provision of reliable and informative content. This will be achieved by engaging stakeholders through regional research on open data and digitalisation; raising awareness about the ongoing consequences of a lack of open data and the challenges of the digitalisation process in relation to corruption, accountability, and the stagnation of functional government services; and mobilising citizens to engage further with the topic of open data and digitalisation by providing accessible information and providing a space to voice their experiences.
Open data is a key component in promoting government transparency, empowering different groups to hold institutions accountable, and supporting evidence-based decision making and advocacy efforts. In tandem, digitalization in government can improve public services by enhancing efficiency, accessibility and citizens’ engagement. All countries across the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia) have taken steps to engage with these two areas towards better governance.
However, in nearly all of these countries, lack of capacity and resources and even active threats to safety means there is no established civil society mechanism of independent oversight, knowledge sharing, or multi-stakeholder participation of either of these processes. Ongoing monitoring of digitalization, e-services and data access is also lacking on a systemic level. Citizens, CSOs and media only sporadically engage in this topic, despite being some of the most important beneficiaries and active stakeholders. There is thus a vital need to build upon and support existing initiatives, analyse challenges from a regional perspective, broaden the involvement of different stakeholder and beneficiary groups, and amplify the perspectives and experiences of citizens.
This 12-month project seeks to both inform and engage audiences across the region through the creation of original, informative and accessible content on the topics of open data and digitalisation. Using existing resources and building on BIRN’s extensive track record on freedom of information, a research paper will additionally inform stakeholders of the present circumstances while suggesting actions to address and improve current processes and legislation. All content will be supported by a range of infographics and short video explainers, while events in each of the West Balkans Six, WB6, countries will gather together key individuals from across the media, civil society and governance spheres to discuss the findings and create a platform for the generation of additional ideas and activities.
Open Society Fund Bosnia and Herzegovina
Improve institutional transparency and functionality for citizens and other stakeholders through reliable and informative content.
1: Engage stakeholders through regional research on open data and digitalisation.
2: Raise awareness about the ongoing consequences of a lack of open data and the challenges of the digitalisation process in relation to corruption, accountability, and the stagnation of functional government services.
3: Mobilise citizens to engage further with the topic of open data and digitalisation by providing accessible information and highlighting their experiences.
1. Research paper
Existing research on the status of open data and digitalisation conducted by civil society remains disjointed and often is focused only on a country level. By taking a regional approach, commonalities, successes and weaknesses, external and internal threats, and the challenges facing institutions can be highlighted. The research paper will seek to consolidate and build upon current findings while supplementing information with additional interviews with identified stakeholders. BIRN will additionally file open data requests regionally for certain key documentation to see whether this can be provided in machine-readable or open data compliant formats, providing an overview on existing data in this area. In addition, further insights can be gained on the format and completion documentation that is received and can be tracked across the Network’s existing FOI requests. Policy recommendations will then be provided as a basis for additional actions moving forward and points of discussion at each of the six in-country events.
2. Fifteen editorial outputs
Through BIRN’s ability to produce both in-depth country reporting and cross-border stories, a series of editorial outputs will explore regional and country-level stories on open data and digitalisation. It is anticipated that two articles per country will be produced (12 in total) and three in-depth long reads capturing cross-border perspectives, to be published on BIRN’s flagship website Balkan Insight (BI).
3. Fifteen infographics and five short video explainers
These can break down information and key terminology either embedded within articles or act as standalone pieces, making engagement easier for the public. Topics could be connected to EU GDPR, the specifics of EU DMA and DSA, relevant local government action plans, artificial intelligence, digitalisation, how people are affected by it, and why it is important to engage with.
4. Six in-country events
The events will gather identified stakeholders across civil society, media, and government to present and discuss regional findings, while providing a platform for actionable recommendations and activities.
5. One regional focus page on Balkan Insight
A regional focus page will consolidate BIRN’s editorial outputs across the Network on digitalisation and open data for easy accessibility in multiple languages, as well as provide a space for any new content produced. The research paper will also be accessible on this site.
Journalists and media outlets, citizens across the Western Balkans, CSO organisations, those within the policy and governance spheres who are in a position either to be held accountable or make change to existing legislation or modes of operation
BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina