Category Archives: Open Data & Information Market Places

Data Workshop – 15 September 2015@ Impact Hub Birmingham

Presentations from the session are now available below:

Birmingham’s Smart City Commission invited key individuals with a keen interest in all things ‘Data’ and ‘Health’ to their share knowledge and expertise which will be key to enabling Birmingham to become an‘Open by Default’ city.

The work follows on from June’s Smart Commission meeting and the recommendation from Cllr Lisa Trickett for a Data Workshop to shape the development of the Open Data and wider Data agenda of the Birmingham region with a view to producing a briefing paper for wider circulation and adoption.

Smart City Commission Data Workshop
Hierarchy of Data Needs

Hosted by Impact Hub Birmingham and Facilitated by Robin Daniels, Managing Director of Redpill Group, the day included a case study contribution from Atos and Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council/Public Sector partners on their Multi Agency Data Sharing:  Vulnerability Intelligence Project (VIS); and participants were asked to help determine the challenges/pain points, service engagement and data interactions in a ‘Day in the Life’ of an archetype citizen (focusing on the ‘Health of Older People’).

The workshop details can be viewed on Eventbrite.

Please post your comments and perspectives here as we would welcome your input.

‘What data would you like to see open?’ asks Bham City Council

Birmingham Speaks LogoAs part of Birmingham City Council’s ongoing commitment to open data and to make it available via the Birmingham Open Data Factory – they have issued a call to gather the public’s thoughts and suggestions on types of data they would like the council to make available. This could be data the council currently holds but not yet published openly or data they would like to see ‘open’ in the future.

Note suggestions and join in the conversations here

Birmingham seen as open data exemplars says The Cabinet Office

Open Data event March 2015
Paul Maltby (2nd left) and Jemma Insall (right) from Cabinet Office with David Hardman from Innovation Birmingham and Heike Schuster-James from Digital Birmingham



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!

Festival of Code – could you help?

This summer Young Rewired State are bringing their hugely successful Festival Of Code back to Birmingham.

Young Rewired State | Festival of Code 2015
Young Rewired State | Festival of Code 2015

Happening over the week of 27th July to 2nd August, The Festival of Code brings together young developers, all of them under the age of 18. During the week they attend centres around the country and build web and mobile applications that attempt to solve real world problems, with each project using at least one piece of open government data.

Then, over the weekend up to 2000 young people will descend upon Birmingham to present their projects and get feedback on how to take them further. Continue reading Festival of Code – could you help?

Links that relate to open data, government and community groups

(First published here)

The BBC Reports that ”

The UK government is the most open and transparent in the world, according to global rankings looking at public access to official data.

But web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, whose organisation compiled the table, says the country has “a long way to go” before it has a fully open government

UK addresses as open data: the “UK’s first open and free address list launches”:

Voluntary sector and open data.

David Kane from NCVO writes:

My aim as a member of ODUG is to represent the needs of the voluntary sector – but to do that I need your help. I’d love to hear your open data issues – are there datasets that government produce that would help you but which you can’t get hold of at the moment?

A great place to start is the data requests process on This is where you can request access to datasets that aren’t currently open – they’ll be looked into by the team at the Cabinet Office and ODUG will also keep an eye on the process. You can also get in touch with me directly if you have any questions or comments about open data.

Something that ODUG members have been working hard on recently is a response to the government’s proposals for a National Information Infrastructure (NII). This ODUG paper published today sets out what we believe a National Information Infrastructure should look like, and how it is as important for the country as a physical infrastructure such as Crossrail.

see more

Creating a Business Case for Open Data

Digital Birmingham is part of a group of local councils that are leading the open data and transparency agenda, set up by Cabinet Office, to share learning and develop our thinking and future approach.  Last week I attended a lively discussion and wanted to share some ideas, picked up from Glasgow, Hampshire, Devon, GLA, Lambeth, Future Cities Catapult and others.  Small caveat: This is my interpretation of what was discussed, if you have been there or know more about these projects, please feel free to comment or correct.

Open Data has been around for a good few years now and quite a number of local councils have followed Government’s lead and published much more data than is required by law.  Many good examples such as the London Data Store, Open Glasgow, Nottingham and last but not least Birmingham’s Open Data Factory have been created and initiatives such as the LGA Incentive Scheme and the Breakthrough Fund encourage councils to publish more data sets.

Much of this work has been done based on goodwill, a leap of faith and often some form of grant funding.  This has created lots of anecdotal evidence and great stories but we’re now reaching the point where a good business case is needed to do more work and justify longterm effort and cost.  As one attendee put it: Council decision makers might be able to find funding but they lack a clearly investable proposition.

In response to this, the Open Glasgow team, which has been set up as part of their Future City Demonstrator project, has started to work on measuring the benefits that nearly 2 years of open data activity have created.  They have created the categories below and expect results to be available in late summer 2015.


–        Intrinsic value for organisation

–        Savings evidenced through reduced FOI requests


–        Value of sharing internally

–        Value of combining new data



–        Changing the conversation with the citizen

–        Reduced cost to engagement

–        Citizens connect easier to assets and services


–        Better decision making due to analysis and presentation

–        Measurable efficiencies or savings internally

Glasgow Benefits for Open Data


Another approach to answering the question about value is a change of the selling proposition: All of us, councils, public sector organisations, private and third sector organisations are consumers of data.  We consume data on a daily basis to run our services, monitor and improve operations.  Good data is the lifeblood of our internal operations and will usually have agreed quality standards.  Publishing some of our data could just be a by-product that shouldn’t’ require much extra effort. By publishing data we’re enabling it to be shared and reused internally much more easily.  Additionally, data that is being viewed and used will drive its own quality improvement because users will spot anomalies and may suggest corrections or a better format that benefits more users.

Last but not least, the Future Cities Catapult is undertaking research into Measuring the Value of Data.  Led by Catherine Mulligan, Head of Digital Strategy and Economics, they are looking at developing like for like comparisons to estimate realistic value of open data for the economy and counter the various estimates that are floating around assigning Billion $ scenarios to the exploitation of data.  This work will also address how to value the complementarity of datasets i.e. value created, possibly early on and on a smaller scale, through combining several 3 datasets that have not been combined before.

Data and open data skills for Birmingham community and voluntary groups at these Social media Surgeries.

Low Hill Social Media Surgery August 2012

First published on the Social Media Surgery blog.

Could your community group or charity be more effective if you collected information in different ways, used it better, shared it with the right people?  Would it help if you could more easily find information that government has about the places  or perhaps the people you are trying to help?

We are experimenting in Birmingham with how we can use the social media surgeries to share not just social media skills with local community groups and charities, but also data skills.

If you want a chat – even to find out what we mean – please click the links below for anyone of the surgeries for the following areas and sign up…

Central Birmingham Social Media

Moseley and Kings Heath Social Media Surgery

Kings Norton Social Media Surgery

What should I expect?

As always we start with you and your group.  What are you trying to achieve? What skills and tools do you have at the moment?  Can we show you new ideas that could help you achieve more? Can we help you in practical ways use those skills and tools – there and then? Always the same relaxed approach of a social media surgery.

What’s your aim?

Our ultimate aim is to encourage more community groups and local charities to find good uses for Open data.  This is numerical information that government shares in public, so we can have a better understanding of the places we live in and the way government works.  But we won’t throw you into anything difficult, we’ll start where you are and help you with the numbers and skills that matter to you.

Is there any information online?

As we work with people we’ll learn together how to solve problems. We’ll describe what we’re doing and share it here on the blog.  We will also be writing about things that might help you, tools, sites where data is stored, examples from other organisations.

I have no idea what you mean when you say open data!

Sorry – it is jargony.  Open government data is when government shares information on the internet that it owns  and grants you and I permission to use it (using an open government license) A simple example is local government releasing a monthly list of all spending over £500.  You can find the Birmingham one here.  But don’t be phased by any of this – we want to help you develop the understanding and skills that might be useful for what you are trying to achieve.

Giving young Brummies the keys to power via social innovation

Can you hear that? That’s the sound of 10 very nervous MP’s knees knocking as 2015 will see the city head to the polls. This could be the year the youth of Birmingham finally stamp their authority on the people who make the decisions in Europe’s youngest city.

If you didn’t know, Social Breakfast is a young person’s civic action organisation based in the West Midlands, we run a whole bunch of youth led campaigns ranging from decision maker accountability to financial confidence. We do this by creating a youth led environment that offers a range of volunteering opportunities, give young people a digital podium in order to share their views and finding funding for weird and wonderful projects that will not engage but excite them to affect the wider community, both here and abroad.

Success comes with collaboration so let’s open our minds and use our strengths as social innovators to provide people with opportunities to ignite activism. We have a range of incoming projects from City of Code which looks at creative industries to create social micro projects and we are looking in to new ways of interacting with organisation in Europe and beyond by developing new techniques in regards to digital exchange.

My name is Nathan and I invite you to take part in a year of digital activism with Social Breakfast, giving young Brummies a voice that will echo long after 2015.

Nathan Coyle

Twitter: @nathan_coyle // //

Join the ESA APP Camp

The ESA App Camp is inviting developers to Barcelona from 25 Feb – 3 Mar 2015 for an event set to culminate in an awards ceremony at the Mobile World Congress. The participants will be selected at six simultaneous Appathons across Europe on 24-25 Jan.

The ESA App Camp challenges developers to create innovative applications that will make Earth observation data accessible to a broad audience and create value in the process.

Participants in Barcelona will have access to the SAP HANA Cloud Platform that enables developers to build, extend, and run applications on SAP HANA in the cloud. Participants will meet like-minded people and tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges!

For full information and how to participate, please visit


Funding boost for open data plan

A consortium led by Birmingham City Council has secured funding from the Cabinet Office to support the development of a Birmingham Data & Skills Hub.

Looking at Land Registry data as part of the Community engagement in the Release of Data Fund (L-R) Subah Rasab (Balsall Heath Community Forum), Pauline Roche (RnR Organisation), Abdullah Rehman (Balsall Heath Community Forum), Stuart Lester (Digital Birmingham)

It is hoped the hub will act as a catalyst to encourage citizens, communities and third sector organisations to understand the value of open data analysis to help address community issues that matter most to them. The consortium, including partners from Aston University, Boilerhouse Media, Podnosh and RAWM (Regional Action West Midlands), has received £124,000  from the Cabinet Office’s Release of Data Fund that will help accelerate and automate open data extraction and publication processes from Birmingham City Council’s systems and others onto Birmingham’s new Open Data Hub that is currently under development.

Read the full press release here