Digital Birmingham welcomed Paul Maltby, Director Open Data and Government Innovation and his team from Cabinet Office to Birmingham to showcase the excellent work being done by the wider digital community. Their discussions with Mark Rogers (CEX of Birmingham City Council) and Councillor Trickett (Cabinet Member for Green, Smart and Sustainable City) re-enforced the council leadership’s commitment to openness and transparency as driver for change. This half day event supported by Innovation Birmingham at Faraday Wharf displayed a firework of outstanding work done in Birmingham and the wider region.
12 different stories were told by panellists from West Midlands Open Data Forum, Mappa Mercia, Impact Hub, Sandwell Trends/@policyworks, NHS, RnR, RAWM, Balsall Heath and Castle Vale Neighbourhood Forums, Boilerhouse, Podnosh, Birmingham City Council, Centro and Amey. This demonstrated that open data is being used more and more, on its own and mashed with other data. However, all stories start and end with people. Citizens seeking to understand their neighbourhood to build new homes or help vulnerable people in the community drive projects and develop the skills to find and use the right data. People at work who need to raise more funding, understand where their clients come from or wish to gain better visibility for their organisation get engaged.
Projects in the region are responding to those needs by providing help with data skills, creating powerful but simple to use visualisation tools and build networks with these communities. People in big organisations on the other hand are exploring ways to embed open data and open innovation into the business to drive innovation together with their supply chain and improve their own operations.
Cabinet Office visitors were impressed by the range of activities and engaged in the lively discussions. Some of these examples are sure to make it into their best practice collection!