EU Datathon 2022 teams behind the apps: Meet Free Software Foundation Europe
‘The teams behind the apps’ is a series of videos made by the EU Datathon finalists. Get to know this year’s teams and their apps over a set of 12 episodes, twice weekly, in the run-up to the competition finals. On 20 October, the teams will pitch their apps to a jury that will select the winners. An audience will also be able to support their favourite team through the Public Choice Award vote. Register now to follow the finals online!
In their EU Datathon project, Free Software Foundation Europe e.V. (FSFE) visualises the links between businesses, the public sector and individuals involved in EU public procurement. All this to increase the transparency, traceability and predictability of the award process. The team behind the app – Linus Sehn, Alexander Sander, Michael Weimann and Max Mehl – joined us for a short interview in which we talked about the app, what makes it special and why they decided to participate in the EU Datathon.
How’s it going with the app? What’s the current status?
We are currently in an early beta stage. We have settled on a data ingestion pipeline from XML over PostgreSQL to neo4j. Another component that is almost ready is the API that allows the user to query the neo4j graph database that stands at the core of our application. What we currently spend most of our time on is the frontend that accompanies the API and allows the investigator to visualise European public procurement data.
While there are quite a lot of commercial, closed-source offerings out there for visualising graph data, we have decided to stick to our open-source approach and use ‘neodash’, a free and open-source dashboard builder for neo4j graph databases.
Why did you decide to take part in the EU Datathon?
We at the FSFE believe that the best way to change the status quo is to actively tackle the problems that we deem are worth solving. The EU Datathon is a great opportunity to show how a particular issue, i.e. making European tendering data explorable for non-experts, can be solved using free and open-source software. The decision to take part in the EU Datathon was made after learning that ‘transparency in public procurement’ was one of the challenges for this year’s edition. We at the FSFE believed that we could offer some actionable insights and decided to apply.
What makes your app special?
Despite a range of previous efforts to parse and analyse TED data, there currently exists no offering that fulfils all the following requirements with regard to the provision of TED data:
1. it is free for non-commercial use;
2. it is up-to-date (updates at least on a monthly basis), cleaned and deduplicated;
3. it is available as OCDS-compliant JSON (via bulk downloads and REST API).
Sustainably providing long-term access to European tendering data in a way that fulfils these three requirements could enable numerous applications that are of interest to civil society, business and beyond, which could greatly enhance the transparency of business activity in Europe.
There are a range of interesting questions that can be answered with this data if it was available in a well-documented and easy-to-understand format that is interoperable with tendering data published elsewhere.
To find out more about the Free Software Foundation Europe team, watch this 1-minute video.