Open Event Data Alliance

The shortest answer is doing.
George Herbert
It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.
Harry S. Truman

The Open Event Data Alliance (OEDA) is a consortium, in the process of incorporation as a U.S. 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, of for-profit organizations, not-for-profit organizations, and individuals committed to facilitating the development, adoption and analysis of social and political event data.

Political event data—nominal or ordinal codes recording the interactions between international actors as reported in the open press — are a common type of information used in quantitative political research. Technological developments over the past two decades now allow this data to be automatically coded from machine-readable sources in near-real-time, which has dramatically decreased the cost of producing such data and increased the interest in applying it in a variety of domains, including commercial, policy and academic applications. The OEDA seeks to support the development of event data through

  1. the hosting of open access datasets
  2. the development of open source software and coding ontologies for these purposes, and
  3. the creation of standards for documenting the source data used for event data

Development of the OEDA is being led at the moment by Phil Schrodt, John Beieler, Patrick Brandt, Erin Simpson, and Andy Halterman.

Objectives

    The prime objective of the OEDA is to provide reliable, open access, multi-sourced political event datasets that are updated at least weekly, are transparent and have documented source texts, and use one or more of the open coding ontologies supported by the organization. As an organization, OEDA will aggregate, rather than generate, such data—in particular we expect to be linking to multiple data sets. These datasets will share a common format or be supported by open software that will translate them into a common format. Data generated with open source coding engines and dictionaries are preferred, but the organization is open to proprietary coding methods, provided the resulting data are open access, documented, and clear of intellectual property issues. The OEDA does not seek to establish any definitive imprimatur but rather to provide guidance for voluntary solutions to coordination problems on issues and resources of common concerns.

    The objective of the OEDA is not to provide "one data set to rule them all" and as such it takes no position on the relative appropriateness or validity of various event datasets, although it may support research on scientific comparisons of various data sets, including those provided by its members. Rather we seek to provide a stable, credible and recognized data source that can be used to support the research and development efforts of the community.

    As opportunities arise, the OEDA expects to negotiate and become the intellectual property license holder for news texts that can be used to produce open access event data sets. These activities could include licenses that restrict the text (but not the derived data) to use within the organization, licences that provide access only to the membership, and licenses that provide for open access.

    The organization will not seek to compete with its membership for the provision of research and analysis. It will undertake the development of open source software and standards in circumstances where these needs have been identified that are not being met in a timely fashion as determined by its boards of directors and board of advisors. When opportunities arise, the organization will actively seek funding for workshops on common standards and for training.

    As resources and voluntary efforts allow, the OEDA expects to participate in the conferences and workshops of other professional organizations, both to disseminate results of its own work and to provide training, While the organization may on occasion initiate independent conferences, these are not the primary purpose of the organization. We do not anticipate the establishment of a journal, magazine or any other periodic communication, but will maintain various forms of electronic communications. The organization will give no awards. Particularly those involving the recruitment of committees.

    The mascot of the OEDA is Jack.

Activities

  • Maintenance of a set of reliable, internet-based open access, multi-sourced social and political event data sets that are updated on at least a daily or weekly basis. When practical, this will be done by aggregating existing data sets but if needed the organization will generate its own data using open source resources. This data will be maintained in reliable, mirrored archives.
  • Licensing of texts of news sources that can be used for the production of open access data, as unlicensed texts cannot typically be shared because of licensing and intellectual property concerns.
  • Maintenance of a blog, email list, and servers, as well as contributing in other media. The servers will contain a versioned archive of various open-source resources.
  • Development of voluntary open standards for resources such as data formats (and software to translate between formats), coding ontologies, and dictionaries, and development of "best practices" for coding protocols.
  • As resources permit, legal defense of any challenges to open source materials, or coordination with other organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation or the Bill of Rights Defense Committee on these efforts.
  • Sponsorship of training and best-practice workshops at professional meetings as opportunities allow. If there is sufficient demand, sponsorship of one or more independence conferences.
  • Collecting nominal dues from members to pay for server costs and licensing fees, as the need arises and in consultation with members.