Unleashing the Power of Open Data with Open Data ASEAN
April 01, 2016

Written by guest speaker Mishari Muqbi

On 18 March, DataKind Singapore hosted a special meetup event to focus on open data ideas for social impact analysis. There were about 40 participants, and it was a good mix of the open data and data science communities, including visitors from Open Data ASEAN. They came to either pitch ideas on how open datasets could be used to analyze social issues they were interested in, or to join a team to work on open data. Successfully formed teams will develop their data analysis ideas, so they can be matched with non-profit organizations which can benefit.

To kick off the event, I was happy for the opportunity to present a talk titled “How I predicted the coup in Thailand (and didn’t know it).”

In 2013, I wrote a blog post that analysed sentiments amongst Thai political protesters. One result that leapt out was the low level of support for democracy amongst the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protesters, also known as the Yellow shirts. According to a hypothesis by Larry Diamond, for democracy to be consolidated, at least 70% of the population must reject any authoritarian alternative and sentiments amongst the PDRC were below this threshold. In 2014 the coup occurred. I wrote a follow up post analysing a survey that was conducted that contained a reasonable test of levels of commitment to democracy; only 3.10% of the respondents were committed to it. If a breakdown is likely, in Thailand it most certainly happens in the form of a coup.

Why is this important? It means that, just as cholesterol, blood pressure and others can be used as an indicator of a pending heart attack, coups are no longer the result of forces outside one's control but something we can all be responsible for, and this is a powerful realisation.


After my presentation, I was impressed with the range and geographical reach of the open data pitches proposed by different participants. This included pitches to:

  • collect and visualize tree data in Hanoi using public satellite images and Mapillary pictures in Hanoi
  • organize data clinics in ASEAN countries using data from different government data portals and Open Development Mekong
  • optimize transit using CCTV footage to create a breakdown of the number of passengers using boat service

I hope that the Open Data community and the Data Scientist community can put their skills together to come up with better tools to understand this and many other phenomena in Southeast Asia, and some of the pitched projects represent just that.


Sign Up For A Team by April 10

DataKind Singapore is now looking for collaborators interested in forming teams around the project ideas. The teams will continue to iterate on these ideas and, if any look promising, will be matched with a partner organization to help co-create the final design and implement any work.

How to Sign Up

  • Review the open data pitches
  • Click on the worksheet tab of the idea you're interested in - leave your name and email address to join that team 
  • You can choose to join more than one team, but remember you need to commit your time accordingly

How it Works

  • Not every open data pitch may have a fully formed team
  • Successfully formed teams should have at least 5 members
  • We'll contact these team members to set up an introductory meeting and discuss on next steps


Q: I'm not based in Singapore. Can I still join?

A: Yes you can, if your team is comfortable to collaborate remotely.

Q: What kind of support can we expect?

A: We will create channels within DataKind Singapore's Slack for your team, and have regular check-ins with your team on your progress and what you might need help on. We will also help to identify potential non-profit organizations which could benefit from your analysis.

We've never done an open data initiative before, so this is also something new for us! Do let us know if you have any suggestions on how we may improve.

Just reach out to with any questions or feedback!

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