Category Archives: Liveblog

Open data careers

What is the professional background of the people who have found themselves working in open data? And how are their careers likely to develop in the future?

The answer to the first question is that: it’s very diverse. A session at Open Data Camp 5 heard from people who had started out as foresters, commercial under-writers and as architects. And from people who had begun their careers in large DIY chains and councils.

Just one participant had been recruited to an open data project from university. And he had studied history while he was there.

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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.

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Impact of the private sector on demand

Open Data Camp 5, day two, opened with a discussion of the impact of the private sector on open data.

The session was led by Shelby Switzer, who explained she was interested in the subject because she worked for a company in the US [Healthify] that uses a lot of open data about social issues and services.

The problem: “We find the data sucks and we have to put a lot of effort into making it better,” she said. “So, I want to talk about how we get the providers to do better.

“Also, how to prove to my company that it is better to help to improve the data at source, instead of spending so much time cleaning it.”

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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.

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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.

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Playing with open data in virtual worlds for real benefits

Christopher Gutteridge and Lucy Knight

Open data can be fun and educational. That was the message of the final session of Open Data Camp 5, day one, as Christopher Gutteridge explained how he came to combine his twin passions of Minecraft and open data.

 

“The story of this goes back quite a way. I kept going to an art gallery on the Isle of Wight, and I wanted to join in. So, I decided to build the seafront in Minecraft,” he said.

“I got OpenStreetMap, and traced it, and then modelled it in the Minecraft world. I printed it out in 3D and put the prints in a gallery. And people paid for them! You can still buy them if you go to Ventnor.”

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Maximum Open Data impact for minimum effort

A very popular session at Open Data Camp 5 discussed how to measure the benefit of open data.

Session leader Deirdre Lee, the founder and chief executive of Derilinx, which works with the Republic of Ireland and city of Dublin on open data projects, argued that in the early days, people were focused on publishing data sets.

Now that a lot of data is available, debate is moving onto getting people to use the data – and to realise benefit. So, she said, the questions now are: how do you measure the impact of open data, how do you prioritise which data sets to release, and how do you get government departments to embed this into their everyday work?

 

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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?

 

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