Category Archives: ODCamp5

Would you like to run a session at Open Data Camp? That’s awesome. Here are a few tips.

Whether you have been to an unconference or not, we are thrilled you would like to run a session at Open Data Camp! Many attendees reach out to us beforehand asking if a topic is suitable or not, and how to best run the session. After years of feedback and experiments, what we know is that we don’t want Open Data Camp to be too strict about formats. We’ve seen all types of sessions: conversations, presentations, panels, “unkeynotes” (a posthumous definition), debates (I had something akin to a – friendly – boxing match with Jeni Tennison last year!).

If you still have doubts, the short story is simple and based on two broad tips:

1) have some ideas ready beforehand, summarise these in a short pitch on the morning, adjust according to feedback

2) the Law of Two Feet is your master: people might go if the session isn’t what they were expecting, and that is good.

Don’t worry about attendees numbers or about rehearsing to give the talk of your life. An unconference isn’t TED. I’ve once been the only attendee in a BarCamp session about 3D printing your own CT Scans (a bit creepy, I know), and I still remember what I learnt.

Open Data Camp is all about discussions, so please imagine your session with a major conversational component. However, attendees often ask if they can bring a presentation. After loads of discussions and past experiments, we have decided that we don’t want to discourage people who come with a prepared slide-deck, but we have some caveats:

1) first of all, we cannot guarantee projectors or screens at the camp, so please make sure your presentation can work without slides, or by showing them on your laptop

2) try and limit the frontal presentation to about 10 minutes and imagine it as a kickstarter for a discussion; Gavin Freeguard did this amazingly at Open Data Camp 4 with his “Tale of two datasets”

3) alternatively, use your slides as a prompt for the discussion, and have something to engage in an exchange every slide or two; John Murray with his legendary sessions about LIDAR, or Alasdair Rae with his great session on gaining insight from mapping are good examples to follow.

Photo CC BY-SA Adam Tinworth

Tell people honestly what you would like to do and ask them what they expect: your sessions needn’t be a monologue worth of George Bernard Shaw, it is ok to have an unpolished set of ideas and present them as they come. Think, however, that alternatives to presentation are often better received. The aforementioned debate between me and Jeni Tennison was pitched on the day out of a random conversation, and it was entertaining for us to hold it as well as for the over 40 attendees that turned up. If you prefer a conversation that doesn’t involve defending positions, that is fine too: make sure you allow all opinions to be expressed in full.

Of course, you might want to have some support. If you fear you might not be able to stop someone speaking for too long, for example, talk to us beforehand and we’ll send you one of our lovely campmakers. All a campmaker will do is to ensure that the session allows everyone some space, and that no one takes over without reason. Equally, if you want someone to take notes at the session, please let us know so we can send a note-taker or arrange for the notes to be broadcast on our blogs.

If you have any question, please do not hesitate to get in touch!

 

Open Data in Northern Ireland – what’s happening??

We recently blogged about our excitement that Open Data Camp is coming to Belfast! As we said in that post:

“This is hugely exciting news for everyone interested in the release of & the re-use of Open Data here in Northern Ireland, providing the local open data community with a fantastic opportunity to engage with colleagues working with open data in other parts of the UK and further afield.”

In this guest post for Open Data Camp, we thought we’d provide a bit of background on what has been happening around open data in Northern Ireland.

Open Data in Northern Ireland – what’s happening??

Northern Ireland was a bit of a late starter to Open Data, but we hope because of this we have been able to learn from others about what works and what does not….

The NI open data portal went live in November 2015 and in 2017 we were placed 10th in the Global Open Data Index out of 94 nations/regions assessed! We were delighted at this placing, however, we still have a huge amount of work to be done in order to realise our goal of making all NI public sector data ‘open by default’.

Background

Strategy

“Open by default” is the position of the Northern Ireland Open Data Strategy published in 2015. There are obvious exceptions in respect of personal data, security, commercial, intellectual property rights or environmental importance.

There are nine open data principles in the strategy, and these determine how we implement open data in Northern Ireland. You can read all about them in the NI Open Data Strategy.  

Portal/s

There is one portal for all Northern Ireland public sector open data – OpenDataNI. This is a CKAN platform which is supplemented with a Microsoft Azure cloud for larger datasets. It went live in November 2015 and we are concentrating on getting key datasets that are in demand published.

The aim of the ODNI portal is to establish & promote best practice standards, to not only enable access to the data but also to ensure that it conforms to metadata standards & open accessibility standards.

The portal has the facility for users to Suggest data to be published – Departments then have 10 days to reply to say if the data can be released (i.e. does not fall within any of the exceptions in the strategy) or not and if it can be released, they must put forward a date by which the data will be published.

Users can also comment on published datasets and on other people’s suggested datasets.

Outside of the public sector there is the Detail Data portal which is part of the detail data project – a BIG Lottery NI funded partnership between the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action and The Detail investigative journalism website.

The aim of the project is to develop the ability of the voluntary and community sector to use data effectively to create and enhance social, economic and environmental value.

The positives – So what is working?

OpenDataNI Portal

Technically enforcing the mandatory creation of DCAT metadata in order to publish open data has been very successful.

Enforcing a mandatory level of 3 Stars of open data has also been successful.

To date, we have 260 datasets published on the open data portal with an average audience of just over 2000 users per month which is steadily increasing.

We have had some key datasets published including all government held LiDAR data for rivers, road upgrades and key heritage sites. There are also 450,000 rows of prescription data published on the site per month, totalling a staggering 5.4 million rows of data per year – we now have 4 years’ worth of prescription data published.

Stimulating reuse

We currently have 16 showcases published on the portal; via twitter, we promote these showcases and seek more from the OD user community so as to demonstrate what they are doing with open data. We have showcases on topics ranging from an application to identify trees in Belfast City Council area, to an interactive visualisation of car accidents in Northern Ireland.

We also ran a successful challenge last year asking participants to use data from OpenDataNI to create new and innovative teaching resources for either primary or secondary level schools.

The 2 winning projects were Our Raging Planet aimed at geography students to simulate natural disasters such as volcanoes and earthquakes in a local environment, and Gaff Game which teaches students to learn SQL programming language using datasets from OpenDataNI to find the best place to live in Belfast. You can check out our video about the challenge or read more about it.

User community

We are increasingly working with a wider user community for NI open data. We have an internal Implementation Board driving forward the open data strategy with representation from all 9 government departments. But we also have set up an Open Data Advisory Panel which consists of local private sector companies, academia, voluntary and community, open government representatives and local technical activists. We consult them for advice and as a sounding board for ideas.

The ODI Belfast node launched in September 2015. It is a Learning and Networking Node which aims to contribute to the local and regional development of open data, ensuring open data for everyone.

The node has been a great addition to NI providing training, completing research projects, holding open data events and generally promoting the benefits of open data for Northern Ireland. ODI Belfast is based at the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA).

The Ulster University runs an Interactive Media BA (Hons) course and now has a module entirely devoted to working with OpenDataNI data!

The barriers – What is not working?

Despite extensive engagement by the OpenDataNI team with the broader NI public sector, we are still faced with low levels of proactive publication of open data by our public sector…. the majority of releases are driven by the Suggested Dataset mechanism by the user community.

What we are hoping will change this is a combination of

    • more targeted engagement at senior level to highlight the benefits of publishing data as open data;
    • we are also planning to publically release a dashboard created from our open data publications, of the numbers of datasets by publisher and also the status of the suggested datasets; and
    • we are also working towards automated data publishing and are currently running a pilot project.

We obviously are open to all other suggestions and are really looking forward to #ODCamp in Belfast, where we can chat with others who may be able to tell us what in their experience helps.

Tourism plug!

Belfast has much to offer attendees from here and further afield…. just by way of example, Belfast was named as the best UK city at the 2016 Guardian and Observer Travel Awards.

Visitors to Open Data Camp 5 in Belfast can be assured of the warmest of warm welcomes, and we hope that many will avail themselves of the opportunity to take in some of the many sights and attractions that Belfast and the surrounding area has to offer whilst here. Here are some links to find the top things to do in Belfast before and after #ODCamp!

Discover Northern Ireland

Visit Belfast

 

The Data Place sponsors Open Data Camp

 

The Data Place is delighted to be a sponsor for Open Data Camp 5; democratising the publishing and use of open data is something we firmly believe in and there are few better ways to do that than by bringing people together to talk, experiment and collaborate.

Although we only formally launched a few months ago, we’ve spent over a year participating in data-focused events around the country to get a real understanding of what people need from data and how they can get the most from it.

Screenshot from The Data Place

We’ve seen at first hand the importance of data communities—intersecting interest groups who believe in the power of data to tackle problems, find new opportunities and hold those in power to account—and Open Data Camp has proved to be one of the most fertile grounds for their emergence and development.

So, as sponsors of the latest event we’re actively supporting the growth of this important forum, but we’re also being a little bit selfish: taking an active role allows us to benefit even more from the wisdom, ideas and needs that help us build a better product. And, of course, it’s a pretty fun weekend.

Announcing Open Data Camp 5

We are delighted to announce that Open Data Camp is returning once again. Open Data Camp 5 will be the weekend of 21/22 October at Queen’s University Belfast, in the Computer Science building

The Computer Science building at Queen’s University

We are really grateful to Queen’s University, and the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in particular,
for letting us use their magnificent Computer Science building, and to Suzanne and Cormac from OpenDataNI for making such a convincing case for Belfast to host our next event.

In case you’ve no idea what Open Data Camp is, here’s a quick recap:

Open

‘Open’ means that data has made available with little or no restriction on its use, as set out in a licence.

Data

‘Data’, refers to text, words, numbers, images, sound and video etc. (Hang on, what’s the difference between data and information? See this useful explanation.)

Camp

‘Camp’ is a term commonly used to refer to an ‘unconference’, which basically means it’s an event with no predefined agenda – instead, attendees ‘pitch’ session ideas to each other.

“Open data is data that anyone can access, use and share.”

More info to follow

We will let you have lots more information in the coming weeks, which will of course include details of ticketing, travel and accommodation.

Photo Credit

Cormac McConaghy