About usOpen Knowledge Belgium is an umbrella organisation (non-profit/vzw/asbl) for Open Knowledge initiatives. We're a grass-roots (read: bottom-up) organisation that consists of people, mainly volunteers, passionate about openness, using advocacy, research, technology and projects to unlock information, enabling people to use and share knowledge. We’re also one of the local chapters of the international Open Knowledge network. There are numerous Open Knowledge initiatives in Belgium. In order to give these communities access to resources faster, an umbrella organisation was needed. That’s where Open Knowledge Belgium comes in. We make knowledge sharing possible and let different organisations and cultures cross-polinate.
Mission and visionMission We want to open up knowledge in Belgium and see it used and useful. We endeavour to achieve this through both a bottom up and community driven way, as well as through working closely together with governments and organisations. We want to connect our four main actors: the community, researchers, governments and industries. Even more, we aspire to let them work together as a whole, instead of seperate units. Vision A world where knowledge creates power for the many, not the few. That’s what we’re going for. We believe that vibrant Open Knowledge commons will empower citizens and enable fair and sustainable societies. We aim to achieve this not only within the Belgian borders but inspire and get inspired by communities all over the world. We keep spreading the power of openness, hoping one day Open Knowledge will be the standard.
BylawsDownload the Open Knowledge Belgium NPO bylaws, as established on March 5th 2012.
Our working groups and initiativesCurious what we're working on at the moment? You can check it out right here.
Our volunteersWe have too many volunteers to sum them all up by name but Open Knowledge Belgium wouldn't be complete without its passionate volunteers. All of our working groups and most of our projects rely on the great work of volunteers, and we're greatly thankful for that. Want to become a volunteer yourself?
Our board of directors
Toon Vanagt Chairman
Toon Vanagt is a entrepreneur with broad experience in all aspects of setting up and managing ventures in the Benelux. He has hands-on experience with e-business, consulting, big data and ICT projects. Toon holds a "commercial engineering degree" from Solvay Business School at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and was awarded "ICT manager SME of the year 2002" by the Belgian Datanews jury. His website Data.be was born as a start-up weekend project in January 2011 and was incorporated on 29/02/2012 with the ‘open data’-spirit in mind for published Belgian company information. Data.be was launched to disrupt the business information broker industry and share company records easily.
Thimo Thoeye Vice chairman
Thimo Thoeye studied software engineering at Ghent University and now works for the City of Ghent, which allows him to combine his love for his city with his passion for data and information management. He is a strong Open Data advocate both within the local government and beyond, and his Open Knowledge Belgium membership greatly strengthens his case.
Mathias Van Compernolle Secretary
Mathias Van Compernolle is a researcher in Open Data at Ghent University. He has helped organising Apps for Ghent, Apps for Culture, Apps for Whisky, and many more.
Pieter Colpaert Financial & representative of the iRail working group
Pieter Colpaert is a researcher in Linked Open Data and member of the board of Open Knowledge Belgium. Back in 2010, he started iRail together with Yeri Tiete, a website which got into trouble for using public data. Ever since, he has been advocating Open data in Belgium as a means to improve data quality, as a means to become a better society, as a means to unlock economic potential, and much more.
Pieter-Jan Pauwels Personnel and volunteering representative
Pieter-Jan Pauwels is a Foresight Specialist at Digipolis Ghent with a predilection for involving communities in co-creating smart city contexts. As a former employee he was the driving force behind Datawijs, W4P, Open Belgium and open Summer of code from 2014 to 2016. His mission is bringing Open Knowledge and Open Data to a level playing field, where people with all sort of backgrounds, technical and non-technical can use, reuse and create knowledge in a sustainable way.
Raf Buyle Representative of the Open Tourism working group
Raf Buyle is promoting Public-Private data-partnerships in order to set the grounds for a thriving data-driven economy in Belgium, where information and insights are accessible to everyone. Raf is involved in strategic e-Government projects for local and regional governments since 2002. As an advisor in e-government strategy, he tries to implement a more rational, interoptable e-government, promoting open data, open standards and open processes.
Ben Abelshausen Representative of the OpenStreetMap Belgium working group
Ben Abelshausen is a long-time Open Data enthousiast, OpenStreetMap-addict and boardmember of Open Belgium and lead of the OpenStreetMap Belgium Working Group. The opportunities that arose from the freely available OpenStreetMap-data and the opendata movement caused him to become a full-time freelancer in everything OpenStreetMap. The biggest chunk of projects are related to an open-source project called OsmSharp, built for routing and rendering of maps based on OpenStreetMap-data.
Inge Van Nieuwerburgh Representative of the Open Acces Belgium working group
Inge Van Nieuwerburgh is a board member of Open Knowledge Belgium and leads the Open Access Belgium working group.
Bert Jehoul Representative of the Open Badges Belgium working group
Bert Jehoul is a Federal civil servant, convinced of the power of openess to reduce bureaucracy, increase trust & facilitate citizen-engagement and private-public coöperations. He helped initiating the Be Badges platform at Selor (Selection Office for the Belgian Government) and supports the Bologna Open Recognition Declaration. Bert has a background in Psychology and Psychometrics and is an enthusiastic user of the statistical software R.
Gwen Franck Representative of the Creative Commons Belgium working group
Gwen Franck is a consultant in the field of open science. After starting out at Ghent University Library as a collaborator for Open Access Belgium and OpenAIRE, she was the regional coordinator for Creative Commons in Europe until end of 2016. Currently she is the Open Access ¨Programme Coordinator for EIFL and an Open Access Programme Officer for LIBER, working on established European Open Science projects such as OpenAIRE and FOSTER Open Science. She is also active as a trainer and consultant on open science and open licensing related topics.
Dries Van Ransbeeck Project Coordinator
Dries is full-time project coordinator at Open Knowledge Belgium. He is the driving force behind Open Belgium and is in charge of open Summer of code. His mission is bringing Open Knowledge and Open Data to a level playing field, where people with all sort of backgrounds, technical and non-technical can use, reuse and create knowledge in a sustainable way.
Stephane Roelandt Financial
Stephane Roelandt is an avid Open Data enthusiast and co-founded data driven start-ups like schoolKID and ontoforce. Since day one, Stephane has proven to be a great help for Open Knowledge Belgium. First as a member of our board and later as a financial manager.
Julia Thomaschki Event and Community coordinator
Julia is an Event and Community coordinator at Open Knowledge Belgium and is in charge of organizing Open Belgium. With a background in Psychology and International Humanitarian Actions, specializing in contemporary armed conflicts and problems related to the establishment and functioning of peace and stability operations, she is particularly involved in technologies that allow for personal development and bear the potential to strengthen developing societies.