Using open data to support investigative journalism and democracy
‘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 12 episodes, twice per week, in the run-up to the competition finals. On 20 October 2022, the teams will pitch their apps to the jury, who will select the winners. The audience will also have a chance to support their favourite team in the Public Choice Award vote. Register now to follow the finals online!
The Lobium/Gavagai team is working on a tool to support investigative journalism, transparency and democracy. Their app will make it easier for journalists to scrutinise legislative arenas – in a faster and better way. How? By using a mix of natural language processing techniques to produce meaningful data, particularly regarding the influence of stakeholders on EU legislative proposals. The team behind this app – Tim Werkhoven, Ivan Sukhletcov, Fredrik Olsson and Anyla Pula – joined us for a short interview, during which we talked about the app, the idea that led to its creation and why they decided to participate in the EU Datathon.
How are you doing with the app? What’s the status?
We’re doing great. There is too much to do and too little time!
Recent feedback we received from our target audience – investigative journalists – led us to refine and improve the visualisations of our data. We used to present things in spreadsheet form, but of course that is not good enough, so we are experimenting with dynamic charts and graphs to show our stakeholder-issue matrix.
We are also working on better ways to consume the data from europa.eu. And lastly, we hope to connect our back end to our front end shortly. This means we will have time to test our app with users before the big day of the EU Datathon finals on 20 October.
How did you come up with the idea for this app?
The idea came from necessity. We saw that journalists were facing a huge challenge: having to turn data into meaningful information to report on EU decision-making.
We strongly believe in transparency and supporting democracy. Ursula von der Leyen recently emphasised the importance of this in her State of the Union Address: ‘Today we all see that we must fight for our democracies. Every single day.’
Recent Eurobarometer data showed that a growing number of EU citizens feel that they are ‘not well informed’ about EU matters. For journalists, informing European citizens and businesses about what is going on at the EU level is a very important part of their job – and even more so in the age of misinformation.
Something clicked: we realised that we can help journalists by providing them with information on the complex process of EU lawmaking so that they can publish new insights, more quickly. With our help, they can better contribute to EU transparency.
Why did you decide to take part in the EU Datathon?
What better place to showcase our app than the EU Datathon?
Europeans (technology companies, citizens, etc.) are blessed with a European Union that strives to make its data more accessible, for any kind of project or venture. That is the main reason why we are able to build this app: it’s all about the availability and the quality of the data. In this respect, the work of the Publications Office of the European Union, especially, deserves high praise. We believe they are paving the way for other institutions around the world.
The EU Datathon gives us great visibility and support. We believe that our app will be very useful for the EU.
To find out more about Lobium/Gavagai, watch this 1-minute video.