Linked data has been a topic of discussion at successive Open Data Camps. So at Open Data Camp 4 in Cardiff, Jen Williams of Networked Planet whipped through the basics.
“When people talk about linked data they are talking about putting it into a statement,” she said. “So in a normal spreadsheet, you have a lot of columns… with linked data you start with an identifier and then go to the column header, the ‘known as’, and then you go to the value. Continue reading Learning to love Linked Data
After a quick sandwich lunch, people attending the Open Data Camp in Cardiff were challenged to a debate. Is a single point of access, aka a portal, the best way to open up access to data sources?
Speaking for the debate was Giuseppe Sollazzo, who co-authored a report on the NHS and open data. “One of the things we have discovered is that there is a recommendation for a single point of access. I am not necessarily a fan of a portal, but at this point we have no other option. Continue reading Do we need portals for open data?
“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.
Continue reading What can open data and data science bring to government?
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.
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?
Continue reading Can user research open up open data?
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.
Continue reading Engaging with open data users
The Welsh government has set ambitious targets to increase the number of Welsh speakers. At the moment, there are perhaps half a million, but by 2050 the government wants to see 1 million.
Session leader Ben Proctor said this presented an interesting open data challenge. “One of the things we have been kicking around in ODI Cardiff that there might be some useful things to do from a data point of view to inform this [target],” he said.
“We have been looking at whether there are existing models for language growth – there probably are, but we can’t find them – and if not can whether we can take some standard growth models and use them.
Continue reading Using open data to support Welsh speakers
Terence Eden from the Government Data Service had one of the most reacted-to pitches at Open Data Camp 4. Surely, he suggested to the more than 100 attendees packed into Cardiff’s Pierhead, data should always be released as pdf?
Of course, this was a joke. And at the session on ‘what open data standards do we need’ he said he had insisted that government departments released data in open document format.
This wasn’t openness for openness sake, he added. It was because he didn’t think it was reasonable for open data users to be expected to buy licenses for expensive, proprietary database and software projects where good, open and free alternatives existed.
Continue reading What open data standards do we need?
The aim of the session was to map some open data ecosystems – because, as session leader Leigh Dodds of Bath:Hacked put it:
“We are often struggling to work out where the value is coming from.”
He added: “We often try to identify users and publish case studies, but there are lots more people working in open data than just publishers and users, so we want to try and capture some of these. We want to test out some roles, and find out how they fit together in a value analysis.”
Dodds had come up with a list of potential roles, which he was keen for the session to test out. These are available at bit.ly/odcamp-mapping: along with a sample map of Bath:Hacked’s own ecosystem.
Continue reading Open data ecosystems
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.
Continue reading Are Open Data businesses viable?
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.
Continue reading Open Data: the basics for newbies