All posts by Adam Tinworth

Open Data Case Study: How Belfast found £350,000 in rates revenues using open FHRS data

How do you prove the value of open data?

Here’s how.

 

The Food Standards Agency’s Food Hygiene Rating Schemes data is released as open data in near real-time, and the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland found a use for it.

Like every authority in the country, Belfast has a ratings shortfall – there are business rates that should be being collected, but aren’t for various reasons. And a bunch of smart people across various parts of the government and city council had a feeling that they could use datasets to improve the collection rate within the city.

Continue reading Open Data Case Study: How Belfast found £350,000 in rates revenues using open FHRS data

Making Open Data Camp matter – to local economies and more

What is the value to the local economy of open data – and open data unconferences? The wider benefit of open data to local economies is harder to quantify. There’s no E-MC^2 equation of open data benefit yet.

So let’s talk about unconferences, and Open Data Camp in particular.

 

Some organisers have a sense that it stimulates the economy, but no sense of how to measure that. There’s local sponsorship – so they’re expecting some return on that investment. It might be an opportunity to meet potential customers, or to improve their operational intelligence.

Corporate social responsibility is one reason people sponsor: it’s both a community benefit, but it also benefits companies to have a thriving open data ecosystem.

Continue reading Making Open Data Camp matter – to local economies and more

Maps, Maps, Maps: good maps, bad maps and accessible maps

What do you do if you find QGIS too easy (and like pain) – you start mapping in R.

But what do people in the room do with mapping, and what data sets do they use?

In Birmingham they used Edubase to plot previous ‘catchment’ areas for schools. Some schools do it from the centre of schools, some from the school gates. And some schools have more than one gate… Some were basing it on distance to the nearest train station. It was about creating boundaries, and then you could set up a tool based on postcodes to see if people are within the boundaries are not.

Continue reading Maps, Maps, Maps: good maps, bad maps and accessible maps

ODI Nodes: a state of the nation discussion

One of the first sessions on Sunday morning session at Open Data Camp 5 gave people from the ODI Nodes network the chance to meet and discuss progress, under the Chatham House rule.

There’s some tension between the ODI’s suggestion that the nodes might become more commercial, and some nodes aren’t really keen on that direction. Some – including Bristol – have reorganised on a way that would allow the work to continue even if they are no longer a node.

Continue reading ODI Nodes: a state of the nation discussion

Could free wifi use data be useful to Belfast?

If you walk through a wifi area and have wifi enabled on your phone, the system can track a certain amount about your presence and movement. They could have that data for Belfast’s city council run wifi networks, which are on around 70 buildings – so what can be done with it? If they had enough compelling use cases they could partner with other organisations to grow the data set.

That data includes things like the device MAC address, the SSID of the network you’ve connected to, and so on.

When you login, you give consent for that data to be collected and used. You don’t if you haven’t connected. Most mobile phones announce their presence to find wifi hotspots.

What value would a wifi nerd see in this?

 

Continue reading Could free wifi use data be useful to Belfast?

Getting the open data you need for good Neighbourhood Planning

Neighbourhood plans are a crucial part of the UK’s planning infrastructure, allowing people to have a serious say in the development of their own area. People in Bramcote decided to take advantage of this – the move to do a neighbourhood plan was driven by a desire to preserve the green belt in the area.

They decided to work on Bramcote ward – a political ward – for simplicity’s sake.

Judith’s first step in building the maps and plans needed for the plan was working out what’s there already. She sought open data that showed what existed within the ward, from walks to infrastructure to the areas of green belt. Local wildlife sites were easily defined – the shapes were downloaded from data.gov.uk, but some local sites weren’t there. They were found at Nottingham Insight mapping, but it wasn’t downloadable. A printout isn’t super-useful for GIS work – and the data wasn’t released for anything but personal use. And the data owners wouldn’t allow permission.

Greenbelt boundaries have been published, so they could see how they’ve been changed. But consultation on planning shapefiles weren’t available for use.

Continue reading Getting the open data you need for good Neighbourhood Planning

Open Data Horror Stories: 2017 Edition

There’s a tendency to focus on personal data as the major risk of open data. But there has to be more than that.

ODI Devon has made a policy of holding its meetings around the county. This avoids everything becoming Exeter-centric, but there is a cost to hiring the meeting rooms, and as they publish their spending as open data, it’s led to some criticism.

Continue reading Open Data Horror Stories: 2017 Edition

Can Open Data help Northern Ireland bring down its interfaces?

The interface team in Northern Ireland is tasked with dealing with the peace walls – Interfaces – which separate Protestant and Catholic areas of Belfast and elsewhere – which are due to come down by 2023. The program has a Twitter account and Facebook accounts to increase engagement with individuals and communities concerned.

Cupar Way is the largest of the interface structures.

 

In order to get them down, then government has committed to only removing them with the consent of the involved communities – but actually reaching this point present significant challenges. And some of these areas are the most deprived in Northern Ireland.

Continue reading Can Open Data help Northern Ireland bring down its interfaces?