Learning and Exploring: Open Data Women Fellowship Journey of Sonika

Open Knowledge Nepal

Open Knowledge Nepal


Sun Jun 23 2019

This blog post is written by Sonika Baniya, an Open Data Women Fellow 2019

Open Data Women Fellowship was completely new experience for me. I came to know about this fellowship through Women Leaders in Technology (WLiT), one of the knowledge partners of the program. It was initiated by Open Knowledge Nepal with the motive of increasing the number of women leaders in the field of open data. Open Knowledge Nepal was accompanied by 10 different host organization and the initiative was supported by the Data for Development program in Nepal.

This fellowship was structured in half day in-house trainings at participating organizations and by the completion of training, we were placed on a host organization. It shaped the fellowship very well and we got to know our host organizations as well as their work. During my visit to host organizations, I got to know about how different companies from different fields are working in open data, open science, open government and many more. Some organization gave us hands-on training on Infographics, Data Visualization, OpenStreetMap, Open data policy in Nepal and many more that support open data resources and open movements.

Open data is not a new concept although it seems to have gained fame lately.  During our fellowship, I came to know about the importance of open data which includes a reduction in data loss, transparency, defining common policy, having one central repository, taking advantage of digital tools and many more that I was not familiar with. There are many areas where we can expect open data to be of value, at the same time it is impossible to predict precisely how and where the value will be created in the future.

I was placed at Young Innovations Pvt. Ltd. (YIPL). YIPL was my first workspace and I had heard a lot about the work-friendly environment there. I was a bit skeptical about it at first but it turned out the workspace is exactly the way I have heard. The working culture here has really exceeded my expectations and I feel very lucky to have YIPL as my host organization. After joining YIPL, I was assigned to work on AidStream.

AidStream is an online platform for organizations to help them easily publish aid data in accordance with the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) standard without dealing with the complexities of creating XML. Working on AidStream, I got to know how it is helping in Open Data Initiative directly. Apart from my work on open data, I was also involved in technical aspects of AidStream which helped me in improving my programming skills.

In short, I was working in Indicator Vocabulary Codelist in accordance of IATI standard. The Vocabulary Registries includes WHO, Sphere Handbook, World Bank, HIPSO, UN SDG, UNOCHA, UN Millennium. The data were scattered and not easy for users. So, I spent my first two weeks scraping data from standard websites using Python package Beautiful Soup. After assembling data, I worked on new features on top of AidStream where users can search the required indicator parameter, registry name globally as well as registry wise.

One month is a really short period especially with five days work week. For me, it could not be shorter in YIPL. The culture of YIPL is very much engaging which always aims to bring out the innovative part of them, no wonder why the company is named so. Knowledge Sharing Session of YIPL is worth a mention where young and enthusiastic mind gathers together and share their knowledge, challenges in work, new technology they are familiar with and many more.

Apart from that, I was the luckiest to have my fellowship at the time when YIPL was having their retreat of the year and as a new member, I was in organizing a committee of YIPL Retreat 2019. The team who work together have fun together, dance together, party together, play together. We did it all in retreat.

The month-long fellowship ended sooner than I thought and It was a wonderful experience here at YIPL. I would like to give my sincere gratitude towards Nikesh Balami, Open Knowledge Nepal, and Anjesh Tuladhar, YIPL, for their constant mentorship and guidance throughout my work and considering me eligible for this task. I am more than glad to continue my journey as an intern in YIPL and with all this wonderful experience, I look forward for the days to come with more enthusiasm and confidence.