In OTF’s annual report from our first year of operation, we stated that “In pushing a new funding model, it is important to maintain rigorous data collection that will allow for a thorough exploration of both positive results and areas for improvement. OTF intends to identify additional means of compiling data on the performance of the program through automation methods.” This was in the hopes of “offer[ing] the larger community an unprecedented means of assessing a government funding program and further push[ing] improved transparency in this space.”
Since that time, OTF has requested that applicants provide a variety of information surrounding their project when they submit a concept note: monetary amount requested, the project’s focus area, and whether the applicant has previously applied for OTF support, for example. You can see all of these categories in the application form. In an effort to follow through on our commitment to transparency, we’ve compiled this data and cleaned it up so that it can be shared publicly while maintaining respect for the privacy of applicants.
The database consists of all Internet Freedom Fund and Core Infrastructure Fund applications received by September 1, 2018. The work was guided by our Responsible Data Policy with the resulting dataset prioritizing applicant privacy by aggregating the information in an anonymized fashion. The initial results of this effort are now publicly available at in our learnings section.
At present, the visualized information does not include many of the application categories such as Objectives, Technology Attributes, or Project Status, for example. The current visualization is the first in a larger ongoing effort to provide a variety of data visualizations across all our funds, labs and fellowships; in the future, we intend for this to be updated in real time while including as much information as possible. Key to this endeavor will be learning more about the usefulness of these initial visualizations to various audiences. Given the wealth of OTF application data, we hope to learn what types of aggregated quantitative analysis would be most useful to potential applicants, among other stakeholders.
This not only allows all interested parties to more deeply explore OTF’s operations, but also reflects our ongoing commitment to the belief that funders should operate with a high degree of transparency. For example, last year we worked with the Engine Room to release the Responsible Data Policy noted above, which can also be used by other funders seeking to allow the public to (safely) explore the information they receive. And, as always, you can also view the projects OTF supports on our website, with additional detail available in our annual and monthly reports.
Going forward, we will continue to identify mechanisms that allow us to share the information we receive as a resource for the community. We hope these outputs will be useful, offering some insight into OTF’s programmatic operations while also reflecting the growth of the broader Internet freedom community.