Relation of the OpenEnergyPlatform (OEP) and openmod initiative


#1

The idea is to create an open database and platform for communication about data with focus on energy modelling. Because the concept, implementation and maintenance requires a lot of effort and time the foundation was included in a collaborative (ZNES, Next Energy, RLI, IKS) open science project open_eGo. Most of the staff was and is active in the openmod community.
On the one hand the database is needed in the project to store, manage and distribute open data. On the other hand it is open to other funded and private projects dealing with energy.

While the prototype of the OEP and database (oedb) are already online the relation and connection between this effort and the openmod community remains unclear. There were several presentations on the previous openmod workshops (Stockholm, Milano) and some discussions on the mailing list.

Now this topic can be the spot to give feedback, raise concern and express your opinion. Perhaps we can start with this two questions:

  • How are public funded projects and efforts included in the openmod?
  • Are there criteria that must be fulfilled?

Openmod governance
#2

I think this is an important discussion and would encourage as many people as possible to contribute their opinions.

There is a concrete question of whether and how the OpenEnergy Platform (OEP) should be integrated in the existing openmod infrastructure (e.g. whether it can use the openmod-initiative.org domain) and a general question of who gets to use the “openmod” name and how that is decided.

Up until now openmod has been run by volunteers, which has kept it fairly anarchic, independent of any institution and free of questions about money and influence. On the other hand, the lack of resources
has prevented the development of more ambitious projects like the OEP or the OEDB, which have German government funding. Openmod has been restricted to projects that don’t need much work or maintenance or money (like the mailing list, the workshops, the wiki and this forum). These projects have typically arisen organically out of either the openmod email list or the workshops.

How much do people value the anarchic, volunteer spirit of openmod? Or is the goal of promoting open energy modelling more important?

Other funded open energy projects like OPSD, SciGRID and the countless open models have developed their own online presences and then been linked from the openmod websites, rather than using the openmod name directly. Is this the model openmod should promote? Or given that the OEDB and OEP would integrate closely with the openmod wiki, do they fall into a different category?

My personal feeling is that we should generate some general rules, e.g. that we generally prefer external projects to develop their own web presences and link to them, to maintain the independence of the initiative. However, if projects want to further develop the openmod infrastructure and use the “openmod” name, then there should be a vote of the openmod membership (e.g. the people on the mailing list). In the particular case of the OEP I wouldn’t have a problem with the OEDB using e.g. the oedb.openmod-initative.org sub-domain, as long as it operates parallel to the rest of the infrastructure like the wiki and doesn’t degrade anything else should the service shut after the project loses funding. In general, there are not that many people actively contributing to the openmod initiative and we shouldn’t be turning away initiatives with enthusiastic people willing to extend the scope of the initiative.


#3

Hi!

I think adopting a general rule makes a lot of sense. What about the following?

Any project that would like to use the Openmod initiative brand, logo, URL, or infrastructure needs to gain the explicit support of X% of the members. Members are all members of the email list. Voting could be organized Wikipedia-style in this forum. Voiting should include a “No”-option - obviously, if the majority votes no, the proposal is declined. X could be anywhere between 10% and 25% - I tend to favor a lower threshold.

What do you think?

\Lion


#4

Thank you for starting the discussion!
Just a small comment on your idea @Lion: In principle, it sounds good. In my opinion, the grouping idea needs some improvement: Why take one group (email-list) as the threshold giving list and another (this forum) for voting? The two groups might diverge from some point, if this forum is a success.


#5

I am reluctant to see the openmod initiative get too close to individual energy database or modeling projects. I think it healthier to maintain a separation. I would prefer that the openmod domain name not be used for such projects.

I am also reluctant to use voting to make these kinds of decisions. It is better to attempt consensus. And if a consensus is not forthcoming, then the proposal should be gracefully abandoned.

That said, there are many “projects” that the openmod community can and should engage in. Number one is providing forums for passing ideas around. Number two is collectively documenting general information about open energy data and models, using, but not limited to the openmod wiki. Number three is engaging in advocacy. This last point is still in its infancy, but should be discussed in order to develop processes for forming positions and approaching organizations and politicians — assuming the idea of lobbying meets with sufficient support in the first place.


#6

I largely agree with @robbie.morrison: I see the main value of the openmod initiative in communication and coordination, and think specific modeling or data projects are better off as separate entities.

I agree with @tom_brown that any contribution to the initiative should be welcome though. In this case perhaps the key question is: what do both OEDB and the openmod initiative gain by having the project running under the openmod banner versus it just being (possibly quite prominently) linked to from various places on the openmod websites?

Given that OEDB could partially replace or extend some of openmod’s coordination functionality, it may be worth integrating it more closely. On the other hand, looking at http://oep.iks.cs.ovgu.de/, I’m still not entirely convinced how it improves upon the factsheets currently on the wiki.

Voting sounds potentially tricky on this forum, given there isn’t much activity yet. Perhaps it would work on the mailing list.

Conditions for projects to be hosted through the initiative could be that all code is open and that maintenance/funding must be guaranteed at least for the next year or two?


#7

There are issues of ownership and liability associated with a non-profit organization hosting software projects. A 2017 article discusses some of the issues. Matija Šuklje, the author, describes him/herself as “the General Counsel of the Center for the Cultivation of Technology” and a “co-author of the legal and governance documents of The Commons Conservancy” — so I presume that he/she is a lawyer. Please read this article carefully if you think that the openmod should provide an umbrella for projects.

Reference: Matija Šuklje (1 February 2017). “Three new FOSS umbrella organizations in Europe”. LWN.net.


#8

I seperate the different topics of discussion that are discussed above:.

  1. decision making: Though I really like consensus my experience is that it can hinder action easily if misused (mostly by somone feeling personally not taken serious or hurt by any kind of interaction we might not even have recognized). I go with the suggestion of @Lion for voting with at least 10% of the openmod “members” (who is one? my first not much reflected suggestion: everybody who is on the mailing list and who participated in one of the last four openmod meetings or is active in the openmod discussions in this forum (something like minimum 3 posts in the last 6 months))
    Furthermore I would like to shape the decision making process a little bit more to make it easier to go through. We worked out a suggestion last year. I will try to find and post it. It was something like: suggestion => x weeks/days for discussion => summary of arguments => demand for decision => x weeks/days time to vote => documentation of decision…
    To respect the fruitful “anarchic” development how @tom_brown calls it we should be careful about the question what has to be decided by the community and what can just be worked on without decision.

  2. criteria for projects from openmod: That should be projects along our objectives and open for the community to participate. For me it would be important that not single persons or iorganisations uses openmod projects to make publicity for themselves but that it is made clear that it is a community project even though some people might do more for it because their work is funded or they personally can afford more time for it. It still mostly grows on the ideas of many of us. That doesn’t mean that nobodys name should appear with the worked on subjects. It should be visible who can be contacted if somebody is interested in a subject.
    Concerning the different hosts of our appearance I think they should be mentioned in the impressum (forum hosted @FIAS, contact @tom_brown; main page hosted @uni-Delft, contact @joern; wiki hosted…, database hosted…; )

3a. relation between projects and openmod. When is a project an openmod project and when is it a project that “uses” the openmod name? My opinion: when we discuss in the openmod group things that we would like to do then I appreciate if someone finds a possibility to work it out. (always with respect to point 2). I don’t mind if he´/she did it in the free time or whilst being paid for a project. (When I join the openmod meetings it sometimes is my free time but if I can allocate it in a project like other workshops or conferences I will do that.)

3b. Concerning the oedb we discussed in the breakout-group of the first/second meeting that beneath the next steps of gathering data and links in a wiki we have the long term vision of implementing a database and we “decided” (anarchic way of breakout-groups discussion with report to and feedbaxck from the plenum) that we will search for external support/funding. First choice was to do it with okfn and their CKAN DB application. Or if not possible somehow do it on our own. (see also summary of breakout-groups: Compiled results from past data breakout groups). In short: ZNES discussed several times with OKFN without success (no capacities), we (ZNES, RLI) worked out a Horizon 2020 application for a database which unfortunatly just missed (by one point or less). Then I decided to dedicate workpackages of a project we got to the database though it was not on the initial proposal; (there were mentioned a platform for common open energy modelling (which dated from a draft before the first openmod meeting)). We already talked about this possibility in the second meeting but it was kind of last choice (for me) because it implicates discussions with the project leader because time becomes short for other workpackages.
With the university Magdeburg we found a “neutral” partner whom we succeeded to convince to host the database even for longer then the project time (neutral in the way that they are not energy system modelers. So nobody using the database feels like contributing to other meodelers databases but to a common one). The whole software/db-developing process (which is not yet finished) was made transparent and oopen for input and discussion from the openmod community (which is a lot of additional work compared with the discussion of three project partners) .
In my eyes this is a good way to create community projects and to persue our goals. I would appreciate if more partners of the openmod community dedicate their projects or parts of it to the openmod to gain more power to work for our goals…


#9

The OEP is going to have a new release with updated and completed features at the beginning of next week (14.08.2017). You can have a look, comment and contribute (as always) on GitHub (https://github.com/openego/oeplatform/issues/232).

Any comments on Berits post?

A common database was discussed and demanded on several openmod WS, now it it real and can be used by the community!