Open Knowledge Foundation

Open Knowledge Foundation
Formation20 May 2004 (20 years ago) (2004-05-20)
FounderRufus Pollock
TypeNonprofit organisation
FocusOpen knowledge broadly, including open access, open content, open science and open data
  • 86-90 Paul Street, London, EC2A 4NE, United Kingdom
Area served
Key people
Rufus Pollock, Renata Ávila Pinto (CEO)

Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) is a global, non-profit network that promotes and shares information at no charge, including both content and data.[1] It was founded by Rufus Pollock on 20 May 2004[2] in Cambridge, UK. It is incorporated in England and Wales as a private company limited by guarantee.[1] Between May 2016 and May 2019 the organisation was named Open Knowledge International,[3] but decided in May 2019 to return to Open Knowledge Foundation.[4]


The aims of Open Knowledge Foundation are:[1]

  • Promoting the idea of open knowledge, both what it is, and why it is a good idea.
  • Running open knowledge events, such as OKCon.
  • Working on open knowledge projects, such as Open Economics or Open Shakespeare.
  • Providing infrastructure, and potentially a home, for open knowledge projects, communities and resources. For example, the KnowledgeForge service and CKAN.
  • Acting at UK, European and international levels on open knowledge issues.


Renata Ávila Pinto joined as the new Chief Executive Officer of the Open Knowledge Foundation in October 2021.[5] From February 2019 to August 2020, Catherine Stihler served as CEO. She left the Open Knowledge Foundation to become the CEO of Creative Commons.[6] Between 2015–2017 Pavel Richter took on the role of CEO of Open Knowledge Foundation. Pavel was formerly Executive Director of Wikimedia Deutschland.

The Open Knowledge Foundation Advisory Council includes people from the areas of open access, open data, open content, open science, data visualization and digital rights. In 2015, it consisted of:[7]


As of 2018, Open Knowledge Foundation has 11 official chapters and 38 groups in different countries.[8] In November 2022, the Open Knowledge Network was relaunched with two new projects.[9]

It also supports 19 working groups.


Interview with Michael Bauer, Open Knowledge Foundation former employee at Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona[10]

Many of Open Knowledge Foundation's projects are technical in nature. Its most prominent project, CKAN, is used by many of the world's governments to host open catalogues of data that their countries possess.[11]

The organisation tends to support its aims by hosting infrastructure for semi-independent projects to develop. This approach to organising was hinted as one of its earliest projects was a project management service called KnowledgeForge, which runs on the KForge platform. KnowledgeForge allows sectoral working groups to have space to manage projects related to open knowledge. More widely, the project infrastructure includes both technical and face-to-face aspects. The organisation hosts several dozen mailing lists for virtual discussion, utilises IRC for real-time communications and also hosts events.


Open Knowledge Foundation is an active partner with organisations working in similar areas, such as open educational resources.[12]

Open Knowledge Foundation has produced the Open Knowledge Definition, an attempt to clarify some of the ambiguity surrounding the terminology of openness,[13] as well as the Open Software Service Definition.[14] It also supported the development of the Open Database License (ODbL).[15]

Outside of technology, Open Knowledge Foundation plays a role in advocating for openness broadly. This includes supporting the drafting of reports, facilitating consultation[16][17] and producing guides.[18]

Rufus Pollock, one of Open Knowledge Foundation's founders, and current board secretary sits on the UK government's Public Sector Transparency Board.[19]

The Prototype Fund is a project of the Open Knowledge Foundation Germany, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). It is a low-threshold funding program for Germany software developers who develop innovative open source software.


Banner for the Geodata project in Spanish
OpenGLAM logo

The foundation places a strong interest in the use of open source technologies. Its software projects are hosted on GitHub, which utilises the Git version control software. Some of the projects are listed below:[20]

  • CKAN, a tool that provides store for metadata. This enables governments to quickly and cheaply provide a catalogue of their data.[21]
  • Datahub,[22] a community-run catalogue of useful sets of data on the Internet. Depending on the type of data (and its conditions of use), Datahub may also be able to store a copy of the data or host it in a database, and provide some basic visualisation tools.
  • Frictionless Data,[23] a collection of standards and tools for publishing data.
  • Open bibliography, broadly construed as efforts to catalogue and build tools for working with and publishing bibliographic resources,[24][25] with particular emphasis on those works that are in the public domain and public domain calculators. Examples include the Bibliographica, Public Domain Works, Open Shakespeare,[26] Open Text Book[27] and The Public Domain Review[28] projects.
  • OpenGLAM,[29] an initiative that promotes free and open access to digital cultural heritage, held by GLAMs: Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums.[30] OpenGLAM is co-funded by the European Commission as part of the DM2E (Digitised Manuscripts to Europeana) project.[31]
  • Open Economics[32]
  • Open Knowledge Forums[33]
  • Information Accessibility Initiative
  • Open geodata[34]
  • Guide to open data licensing
  • "Get the Data" — a web-site for questions and answer on how to get data sets.
  • POD - Product Open Data


Much of the collaboration with other related organisations occurs via events that the foundation hosts.[35] Its premier event is the Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon), which has been held occasionally since 2007.[36] Other events have been organised within the areas of data visualisation[37] and free information network infrastructure.[38]

Annually, Open Knowledge Foundation supports International Open Data Day

Panton Principles and Fellowships (Open data in Science)[edit]

The Panton Principles (for Open Data in Science) in 2010 had large contributions from Open Knowledge people and in 2011 Jonathan Gray and Peter Murray-Rust successfully obtained funding from OSF for two fellowships, held by Sophie Kershaw and Ross Mounce. In 2013 OKF obtained sponsorship from CCIA[39] for 3 fellowships, which were awarded to Rosemarie Graves,[40] Sam Moore, and Peter Kraker.[41]


D-CENT logo

Open Knowledge Foundation also supports Apps for Europe,[42] and D-CENT, a European project created to share and organise data from seven countries, which ran from October 2013 to May 2016.[43]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Open Knowledge Foundation. "About Us". Retrieved 27 April 2011.
  2. ^ Pollock, Rufus (24 May 2004). "Open Knowledge Foundation launched". Open Knowledge Foundation Weblog. Retrieved 25 October 2015.
  3. ^ "Open Knowledge International – our new name!". Open Knowledge Foundation. 23 May 2016.
  4. ^ Stihler, Catherine (20 May 2019). "For a fair, free and open future: celebrating 15 years of the Open Knowledge Foundation". Open Knowledge Foundation.
  5. ^ Barnett, Vanessa (12 October 2021). "A new CEO for Open Knowledge Foundation – Renata Ávila". Open Knowledge Foundation.
  6. ^ "Catherine Stihler to leave Open Knowledge Foundation to lead Creative Commons". Open Knowledge Foundation. 9 July 2020.
  7. ^ "Advisory Council". Open Knowledge. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  8. ^ "Open Knowledge: The Global Network". Open Knowledge Foundation. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  9. ^ Petti, Sara (28 November 2022). "Better together than alone: say hello again to the Open Knowledge Network". Open Knowledge Foundation blog. Retrieved 28 November 2022.
  10. ^ "Michael Bauer: "Necessitem periodistes per posar les dades en context" - Vídeo". CCCB LAB. 3 June 2013.
  11. ^ "Project Info: Who is Involved with the project?". HM Government. These include the Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network (CKAN): CKAN stores the catalogue behind and a growing number of open data registries around the world.
  12. ^ Open Educational Resources Commons. "About". Retrieved 1 November 2015. Strategic Development and Outreach Partners ... Open Knowledge Foundation
  13. ^ "Open Definition". Open Definition. 17 June 2011. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  14. ^ "Open Software Service Definition Launched". 14 July 2008. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  15. ^ Creative Commons (23 February 2009). "CC Salon Berlin and openeverything focus – Feb. 26". Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  16. ^ Open Society Foundations (September 2010). "Public Feedback Solicited on Access to Information and Open Government Data". Archived from the original on 8 January 2011. Retrieved 1 November 2015. Information Program grantee Access Info Europe, together with the Open Knowledge Foundation, are holding a public consultation on open government data and the right of access to information.
  17. ^ Electronic Frontier Foundation (23 March 2005). "Digital Rights Management: A failure in the developed world, a danger to the developing world". Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  18. ^ Dietrich, Daniel. "Open Data Manual". Archived from the original on 27 August 2013. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  19. ^ "New Public Sector Transparency Board and Public Data Transparency Principles". HM Government. Archived from the original on 25 September 2011. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  20. ^ "projects - The Open Knowledge Foundation". Retrieved 1 November 2015. Open Knowledge Projects
  21. ^ "Feature Tour | ckan - The open source data portal software". 28 March 2012. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  22. ^ "". 23 June 2006. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  23. ^ "Frictionless Data". Frictionless Data. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  24. ^ "Open Bibliography". JISC. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  25. ^ "Open bibliography and Open Bibliographic Data | Open Bibliographic Data Working Group of the Open Knowledge Foundation". Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  26. ^ "Open Shakespeare". Open Shakespeare. 27 April 2012. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  27. ^ "Open Text Book". Archived from the original on 12 September 2015. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  28. ^ "ABOUT". The Public Domain Review. Open Knowledge Foundation. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  29. ^ "The Open Definition - Open Definition - Defining Open in Open Data, Open Content and Open Knowledge". Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  30. ^ "Open Knowledge: Working Groups". Archived from the original on 14 May 2016. Retrieved 21 May 2021.
  31. ^ "Workpackage 4: Community building". 31 January 2014.
  32. ^ "Open Economics". Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  33. ^ "Open Knowledge Forums". Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  34. ^ "Open Geodata Community". OSGeo. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  35. ^ Holloway, Michael (March 2008). "Public sector information: officially better when shared". Digital Rights Group. Retrieved 1 November 2015. And if you get excited by material that's free to access, reuse or re-distribute, then please come down to tomorrow's OKCon, for a day of seminars and workshops around the theme of 'Applications, Tools and Services'.
  36. ^ Open Knowledge Foundation. "About". Retrieved 1 November 2015. The Annual [sic] Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon)
  37. ^ Gehelenborg, Nils. "Workshop on Open Visualization". Nature Network. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  38. ^ Doctorow, Cory (26 September 2005). "Free Information Infrastructure event in London next weekend". Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  39. ^ "". Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  40. ^ "Rosie Graves - University of Leicester". Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  41. ^ "Panton Principles: Panton Fellowships". 12 January 2012. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  42. ^ "Apps for Europe | turning data into business". Archived from the original on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  43. ^ "D-CENT". Retrieved 29 October 2015.

External links[edit]