All posts by Sarah Roberts

Belfast Open Data Camp: how are YOU getting value out of data?

At the last OD Camp, Leigh Dodds pointed out that:

“We’re often struggling to work out where the value is coming from”

This is completely something we are keen to continue talking and hearing about at OD Camp 5 in a few weeks’ time. Like Paddington Bear, Jamie and I will be packing our marmalade sandwiches to travel across the sea. Unlike Paddington, we’re doing it because we’re keen to hear about what problems people are solving with data and what the different approaches to solving those problems are. Who’s collecting the data? Who’s communicating the analysis to those people making decisions? Who, what, when, where, why?

Paddington Bear: fellow seafaring traveller and marmalade sandwich fan

As Ric (our CTO) puts it:

“Much of the value of data comes from combining it with other things, so it’s definitely worth putting effort into making it connectable. And each step of the chain needs to be able to communicate clearly with the adjacent steps for this to work well, which relies on agreement and coordination from the actors involved”

It’s going to be all kinds of good — look forward to seeing you there!

Swirrl are sponsors of Open Data Camp 5, which is coming to Belfast on 21st October and have been sponsors of Open Data Camp since it first sprouted its wings in February 2015.

Swirrl at Open Data Camp 3

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We’re happy to say Swirrl is once again sponsoring Open Data Camp as it heads towards Bristol for its next leg.

It’s our favourite conference on data: attracting a crowd of people who are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about what they do, exchanging ideas and news in a relaxed atmosphere.

We’re grateful to the team of volunteer organisers (see the Eventbrite page for a list – thanks all!) for all their efforts to put on these events, and we’re glad to help by putting in some money towards the costs.

Our CEO, Bill Roberts, will be there and keen to talk about publishing, connecting and analysing open data, making better use of statistical data in the public sector, connecting up satellite data to the web, and more.

Looking forward to seeing you in Bristol!

(PS: if you like Open Data Camp, you’ll probably also like the Data-Driven Decisions event that Swirrl is running in Manchester on 26 May 2016. Tickets now available! Tickets are free, but we’re asking for donations to Manchester Coder Dojo, helping inspire and educate our next generation of technologists.)

 

Swirrl: We’re delighted to support ODCamp again

Open Data Camp v2.0 is coming to Manchester in October and we’re happy to say we’ll be sponsoring it once more!  Just like the first Open Data Camp, it’s devoted to all things Open Data over two days and is a great style of event; with an unconference set up and lots of enthusiastic people who really know their stuff on a range of topics.

We’re delighted to support ODCamp because if the Winchester event in February was anything to go by it will be great fun and very interesting, but also because there will be lots of current or potential users of our PublishMyData open data publishing platform there.

It’s a great opportunity for us to hear about what kind of problems people are trying to solve with data; what kind of datasets they are trying to connect together and what approaches they are taking to analysing the data to help them with their decision making.

We’ll have a chance to show off some of the ways we can already help with that, and go home with a bucketload of ideas for how to make PublishMyData better still.

And it’s being held 10 minutes walk from our office – so if anyone needs tips on where to find good beer or curry, let us know!

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List of data themes for the Scottish Government

Deprivation Mapper for Open Data Communities
Deprivation Mapper for Open Data Communities

Area Profiles on the Hampshire Hub
Area Profiles on the Hampshire Hub

 

 

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Linking open data

We’re happy to be sponsoring the first Open Data Camp UK and we’re looking forward to hearing, and seeing, what people are doing with Open Data. To us, as data publishers, the best thing about opening up data is the freedom it gives you to create something useful.

But if you link your open data the possibilities really open up. So, in that spirit, this post is about what publishing Linked Open Data really means and some of the practical advantages it has.

Linked Data is:

“a method of publishing structured data [on the web] so that it can be interlinked and become more useful.”

linked data switchWith Linked Data, each data point (i.e thing or fact) has its very own URL on the Web. This is unique and because it’s readily available on the internet, people can look it up easily. And Linked Open Data can also contain links to other facts, so you can discover more, related data.

LOD_Cloud_Diagram_as_of_September_2011
The linked data “cloud”

But Linked Data also rocks if you want to make something with the data. This is because when you look up the linked data page, all the metadata about it is embedded in: so there are no ambiguous column names to slow you down.

And if data is published as linked, as well as being published on a web site, it means that it comes with APIs, including a SPARQL endpoint – so developers can query the data in a variety of formats and use the data in their own programs.

But it’s not just for the techies – if you’re not technical, linking up your open data has other advantages.

  • It makes it easier to work with open data across organisations and departments because it’s not locked into silos: anyone can access it, making it truly open.
  • Linking open data with other data sources and having specific names for things saves time and effort when problem solving. Take a look at Steve Peters’ post on Joining The Dots across departments.
  • It’s low cost and sustainable – you convert the data once and reuse it – again and again. As part of our PublishMyData service, you can update your data yourself.
  • By linking your open data, it makes it easier to create apps and visualisations which are a friendly, quick way in to the data.
Swirrl's event space at Manchester's Museum of Science and Technology
Swirrl’s event space at Manchester’s Museum of Science and Technology

And on 21st April 2015 we’ll be sponsoring an event of our own: Local Open Data:Reaping the Benefits.

This is a one day event at Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry. Its aim is to bring together people working with, or interested in, data at a local level.

You can check out our awesome speakers here, or register your interest.

 

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Photo credit

The linked data cloud features in the Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linked_data and is attributed to Anja Jentzsch