Data, big data and open data can often seem complicated, convoluted and at times, even distant words that have little meaning in our daily lives. More importantly for the purposes of our work, understanding how these concepts can lead to better land governance for the rural poor can present some complexities. It is in part for this reason that we seek to apply an information ecosystem model to the work that we do. What is an information ecosystem? We’ve tried to wrap our heads around it too, and have come up with the following:
The information ecosystem draws on the language of ecology and science to describe and better analyze information systems, understanding that organisms, much like pieces of information, are inter-connected and have relationships with each other
In more practical terms, what concrete issues do poor land users face when it comes to making the best use of this information ecosystem and how can the Land Portal help with this? It is widely known that poor land users face many barriers when it comes to making their voices heard at all levels of the spectrum, from national to international. More often than not, this is not because there is a lack of information about land, but rather because of disparities in information visibility, accessibility, consistency and completeness. The Land Portal aids organizations both big and small, in bringing data that can often get stuck in the dark corners of the web, to the forefront, and to life!
What is more is that, by becoming a member of the Land Portal, you too can contribute to this ecosystem, by sharing news, blogs or events, or even by simply becoming involved in the various debates that take place. Our ultimate goal is to democratize information, making it easy to share and reuse!
Thinking of joining us, but still have some questions? Click the links below or feel free to send us a message anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are some of the principles the Land Portal adheres to:
Access to information as a basis for improved and informed land governance
The Land Portal Foundation believes that access to information is crucial to achieving good land governance and to securing land rights for landless and vulnerable people.
Finding solid evidence upon which to develop land-related laws, policies, and practices can be difficult and involve a lot of work. Land-related data and information available online is often fragmented and dispersed across various websites and databases.
The Land Portal Foundation's mission is to improve access to land-related data and information. The Land Portal website gathers information from a broad range of information providers and is organized and visualized in ways that are intuitive and usable for researchers, private sector actors and policy makers at global and local levels. The information provided can strengthen research, advocacy, and policy-making efforts by enabling a better understanding of land governance issues affecting various countries and regions.
Serving as a 'data aggregator'
The Land Portal Foundation is an online resource that directs users to the great variety of sources that publish land related information online. The Land Portal Foundation collects and disseminates knowledge and data from various information providers around the world - from global organizations to local ones - on the Land Portal website.
The Land Portal website serves as an intuitive gateway - a Portal - to the different information providers on land related issues. The Land Portal website hosts metadata (information about information) that is linked directly to the websites of data provides. The Land Portal website does not currently produce original information itself.
Providing Land Portal services
The Land Portal provides a wide array of services, including gathering statistical and numerical information and providing thematic and a country-level overview of key contextual and actionable land governance information, revealing both trends and gaps in available information. It also serves as a free virtual repository of bibliographic and multimedia resources with highly curated metadata. Finally, it serves as a space to stimulate debate with others in the land community through sharing of news and events, blog posts and online discussions. The online discussion is a powerful tool to expose knowledge that has not been already captured in publications or datasets.
Adhering to Open Data Principles & the Linked Information Ecosystem
Every single piece of information available on the Land Portal is enriched according to Open Data standards and principles. This means that the metadata - the information describing what the information is about - is arranged through commonly agreed standards - making sure that all the information is categorized so that users can determine which dataset, publication, and other resources are relevant to their needs. By applying these Open Data principles and standards, the information becomes more searchable and discoverable for users.
Open Data principles and standards do not only make information more easy to find and accessible on the user-end, but are also critical for machines to be able to read and understand the information. Currently the amount of knowledge published online is increasing exponentially, so we need the assistance of machines to be able to digest, analyze, and organize this wealth of information in an effective manner.
When many online databases - on both global and local levels - are linked together, we establish an 'information ecosystem'. It is the Land Portal's mission to stimulate and enable the move from siloed and stand-alone databases to such an online information ecosystem. This will improve the potential impact of each knowledge piece significantly because all the fragmented data sources are linked together.
Acting as a support service for open data
The Land Portal Foundation is willing to work with many information providers on land to publish and expose their information according to Open Data principles- ultimately allowing their information to become a part of the land information ecosystem.
The Land Portal Foundations supports land-focused organizations around the world in adopting and implementing Open Data standards and principles. These standards include LandVoc, a standardized vocabulary on land that topically classifies resources based on subject matter using keywords. Using a controlled vocabulary such as LandVoc ensures that all information is topically classified in the same way (regardless of different languages, the use of synonyms or others) and makes sure that the keywords also can be read by machines. Therefore machines will also be able to understand what the resource is about. This makes sure that the land-related information in any database can be linked together to other databases, because machines can understand which resources address the same topics.
Information from local organizations, particularly organizations in the Global South, can be difficult to find and access. To address this issue, the Land Portal Foundation partners with and provides technical support to many organizations in the Global South. The Land Portal helps local organizations to publish, organize and (technically) expose their information according to Open Data principles - making it more easy to find on a global level and linkable to global databases.