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Open Data Camp – 10 out of 10. Would attend again

This post was originally published on the ONS Digital blog

In October this year a group of like-minded folks will be meeting at Queen’s University in Belfast to chat about open data. They will be doing so under the banner of Open Data Camp, an unconference for those interested in making information from a wide range of sources “open”.

For those unfamiliar with the concept of an unconference, it is a format based more around peer-to-peer learning, creativity and collaboration.

In the context of this unconference, open can mean many things. In the depths of the technicalities of machine readable serialisation, the legality of data reuse, or how to convince your boss that making information available in only PDFs tends to be, shall we say, sub-optimal.

The reason I am writing this post here on @onsdigital is because I am pleased to say we are sponsoring Open Data Camp. We get asked to be involved in a lot of different conferences, but are not able to say yes to many, so I wanted to write a little about why this one is important to us and what we hope to gain from the weekend.

Primarily, we do this because we care about this community hugely and want to help ensure events like this can be financially viable. We also do it because ONS data being open is important if we are to ensure the greatest possible social and economic benefits for the public.

I’ve written about some of this over in my own blog, but don’t take my word for it, listen to Sir Tim during his Ted talk .

As part of this, Tim suggests:

“What you find if you deal with people in government departments is that they hug their database, hold it really close, so that they can build a beautiful website to present it.

I would like to suggest: sure, make a beautiful website, but first, give us – all of us – the unadulterated data. We have to ask for raw data now.”

I still regard this as pretty much the most important statement anyone has made about what the digital relationship between the citizen and the state is and what it could be.

Here at ONS we have been thinking about this a lot, have done some things that hopefully start us in the right direction for opening things up and know we have an awful lot more ground to cover.

We started with defining (with the help of Leigh Dodds) some open data publishing principles.

We are using these to inform the work we are currently doing on a project we are referring to as “Customise My Data”. This is a project to make some fairly fundamental changes to the way we publish data. The goals are to ensure that we move away from being an organisation that publishes excel and into one that publishes a consistent backbone of data, that allows users to breakdown our data into smaller parts and enables machine readable access to statistics (not spreadsheets)

I am hoping to pitch a session at open data camp around how we can make the data we publish through this system as open as possible and as useful for our users as we can make it.

A few final tickets for the event are going to be made available soon (it is free to attend) and I look forward to having some interesting conversations with those of you I get to meet over the weekend.

If you are unable to attend, but are interested in offering feedback on the work we are doing around open data at ONS, please get in touch with me directly, or register your interest to take part in the user research we are undertaking. We have upcoming sessions in London, Sheffield and Liverpool.

Photo available under Open Government Licence v3.0

Data Dive Event at University of York

Data Dive Event logoEveryone with an interest in designing their own games and apps is invited to come along to the University of York’s first ever “Data Dive”!

Run in collaboration with the City of York, this event will have introductory talks and discussion on July 15th, a day of design and coding on the 16th, and a round-up on the 17th, all exploring the creations of games and apps using the large amount of open data York collects, on everything from environmental issues to school attendance. It will also allow for networking with other designers, community groups, industry partners, academics, and more, and be a fun event where everyone will be able to collaborate on game and software design.

Absolutely no technical expertise required!

We look forward to seeing what you all come up with! More information can be found at https://www.cs.york.ac.uk/datadive/ and people can sign up at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/datadiveuniversity-of-york-tickets-26193048112

Draft Schedule:

Friday 15th July

1530-1600: Coffee, snacks, networking

1600-1615: Introductory talk from Dr Mark R Johnson and Dr Darren Reed (University of York)

1615-1630: Introductory talk from Ian Cunningham (City of York Council)

1630-1830: Attendees introduce themselves, initial group formation and discussion, project drafts

1830-Late: Dinner

Saturday 16th July

1000-1030: Recap on previous day, welcome to new attendees, introductions for projects formed on Friday, formation/growth of new groups, introduction to Episode project.

1030-1230: First design/coding session

1230-1330: Lunch break

1330-1730: Second design/coding session

1730-1830: Order Pizza

1830-Late: Third design/coding session

Sunday 17th July

1000-1030: Recap on event

1030-1130: Presentations from attendees on their projects

1130-?: Feedback, discussion, reflections, networking

Turning LiDAR Data into Actionable Insight

default rendering of DSM in QGIS
Default rendering of DSM in QGIS on top of OS StreetView

My pitch to Open Data Camp 3 is to demonstrate my work with LiDAR data showing how it can be used to provide insights which can improve efficiency in a variety of business sectors. Continue reading Turning LiDAR Data into Actionable Insight