Featured Dataset: IATI

Posted on 07/29/2011 by


The IATI dataset covers international aid activities, comprising data described using the IATI agreed standard. The data is being made public in order to make it easier to compare the spending and results. From their site, the IATI explain that:

Those involved in aid programmes will be able to better track what aid is being used for and what it is achieving. This stretches from taxpayers in donor countries, to those in developing countries who benefit from aid.

Improving transparency also helps governments in developing countries manage aid more effectively. This means that each dollar will go as far as possible towards fighting poverty.

At the Hackday, Tim uploaded around 14,000 published activities (using PHP scripts) into Kasabi. He wrote some XSLT to transform data into RDF to publish into Kasabi, which he’s opened up on Github too:

The XSLT I’ve used is now up on GitHub, and is open to modification and updates – so if you’ve got ideas for how an IATI RDF model could be improved, do check out a copy and get updating. The current model is particularly in need of more links to other datasets, and could benefit from greater re-use of existing vocabularies (and a lot more commenting and annotation). It also needs to handle missing values a lot better.(from Tim’s blog post)

The thing that excites me about this set is its potential, and the fact that it’s been produced with the intention of being worked on. It’s a work in progress, with a whole series of ways to get involved, contribute, and use this data. The data model is open for improvement, with a call to help with the structure of the dataset itself.

The set is accessible using Kasabi’s APIs, and I’ve spent a bit of time exploring it using the Python client library for Kasabi called Pytassium. I’ve done some searches, looking for activities centred on disease control, and found that much of the metadata for aid activities is pretty extensive, including dates, descriptions, information on the status of the activity and far much more.

You can SPARQL across the set too, and Tim provided an example query in his post. From the SPARQL API on the set, I was able to save the query (looking for Unicef contributions) as a sample query:

PREFIX dc: http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/
PREFIX rdfs: http://www.w3.org/2000/01/rdf-schema#
PREFIX owl: http://www.w3.org/2002/07/owl#
PREFIX iati: http://tools.aidinfolabs.org/linked-iati/def/iati-1.01#

SELECT ?project ?title WHERE { ?orgInProject owl:sameAs <http://data.kasabi.com/dataset/iati/org/41122>. ?project iati:participatingOrg ?orgInProject. ?project dc:title ?title. } 


Tim manages the Aid Info Labs site, which is set up to help people use transparent aid data, and it’s full of ideas. If you need help thinking of things to build, they’ve included a section specifically intended for “inspiration.” So there is plenty of potential application out there!

Kasabi has been built to help with collaboration on top of data, and I’m excited to see the first steps from this set, and would also love to see its applications. So, if you have ideas, please feel free to get in touch. I’m hoping to feature some applications of this set in the future, and to revisit the IATA data in evolved forms.

Posted in: Datasets