All posts by Adam Tinworth

Sustaining Senior Sponsorship

If sponsorship is taken away – there must have been sponsorship before. So why does it go away? Understanding that might help.

 

Why we lose sponsorship

  • Short attention spans
  • Whitewashing, which they move on
  • People over-promising, and the results not matching that.

The enthusiasm needs to be sustainable.

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Better local government through open data

Local government seems to be in a perpetual state of competition – while the most efficient use of resources would be to collaborate. So how could open data help facilitate that?

 

One attendee talked about formalised co-ordination roles. There have been some pockets of good stuff: the Cabinet Office nominated over a dozen councils as their open data champions, with some mixed results. Redbridge’s data sharing platform DataShare, part funded by the LGA, seems to be well-liked by those who have used it. Some other user authorities are using it – but it’s often not as well implemented as the Redbridge implementation.

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What can open data and data science bring to government?

“Open data is for government. Open data is for activists. Data science is more serious.”

This is a fake dichotomy, and we need to deal with it. There’s no point in having open data if you can’t analyse it. We all want to get answers to people. And we need to connect the skills better. There’s no good delivering the best analysis in the world if it arrives two days after the decision was made.

 

Data science has to prove that we can deliver timely analysis based on open data that impacts on decision making.

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Can user research open up open data?

If open data providers are concerned about how often their data is used, that opens the door to user research. But are they more interested in finding our what else people could do with the data? That’s a much harder task. The user research questions could easily bias the data.

User research in open data

Could it spiral out of control, as the definition of “user” grows too wide?

There’s a fundamental challenge around user research for open data: what would you do if you knew? also, many open data users are highly technical – is that something that makes it harder to run user research, if you’re not yourself technical?

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Engaging with open data users

What are the best ways to engage with open data users?

 

DEFRA did a Bristol user group meeting – and most of the people who turned up weren’t actually using it. They were interested, so they were only potential users. The link came through ODI Bristol, and marketing on Twitter and Eventbrite. How do you find those people otherwise? Getting in the room with people is so important.

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Are Open Data businesses viable?

Is just repackaging and selling open data viable? Or should businesses be more sophisticated, aggregating and adding valuable insights to the data?

 

Some data sets are switching from OGL to restricted licences – like the ratings list. That has stopped some uncomfortable commercial uses – but killed some academic uses as well. The OS polygon data has been problematic because the co-ordinates can’t be republished. That’s been tightened up in a way that makes them completely useful commercially, because of wording that encapsulates all “benefitting” from the data.

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Open Data: the basics for newbies

What is open data?

 

There are loads of examples of open data. It can come in loads of formats. It’s data that’s open and free in accessible formats, that is machine readable. It can be any format – like a jpeg or a PDF, but that latter has become a joke in the community. PDFs are hard to get the data out of in a usable format. It’s great for people but a bit rubbish for computers.

Open data also has a licence, which makes it open. Everything else is just the icing on the cake. OGL or creative commons are common examples.
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