Tag Archives: open data

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.

Net Squared Midlands – global network connecting technology and social impact

Immy Kaur, Impact Hub Birmingham co-founder, speaks to Net Squared Midlands members and guests, May 2015

Net Squared Midlands, the local branch of the global Net Squared network which organises events for anyone interested in the connection of technology and social impact, held its first event in the Midlands at the Impact Hub Birmingham on Wed May 6 2015 as part of the Hub’s launch festival Demo B.

Members and guests heard about Net Squared and its global mission, and the other local branches in the UK. Immy Kaur, Hub co-founder, also gave an insight into how the Hub was started and the success of their crowdfunding campaign.

Local Net Squared Midlands co-organisers, Pauline Roche of social enterprise RnR Organisation from Birmingham and Paul Webster digital connector from Mansfield, gave short talks about some of the work they do around tech for good in the voluntary sector. As well as the pair co-organising the national VCSSCamp unconference for infrastructure organisations, Pauline spoke about open data and her involvement with networks and events Open Mercia, West Midlands Open Data Forum and Open Data Camp while Paul spoke about his work on the LASA Connecting Care project.

Local Birmingham techy members recommended that the organisers publicise Net Squared Midlands on the new Birmingham discussion forum for all techy people Birmingham IO which Pauline has done. Her post there has had 41 views already.

Paul and Pauline explain that whether you are a not for personal profit organisation in the traditional sense, a venture capitalist, a programmer, an individual with a great idea, or a social changemaker, NetSquared Midlands is here to help you make connections and add to the community around innovating for good in the Midlands.

They say that these events are great opportunities to learn what others are trying, see successful projects and platforms, hear about developing technologies, make new friends and collaborate on new projects.

The next event is being planned for September 2015 but in the meantime, members and others are being encouraged to use the Net Squared Midlands meetup page for dialogue and suggestions.

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!

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.

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 www.app-camp.eu.


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 bit.ly/ReleaseofData

Share PSI workshop in Lisbon – call for papers

Following its first workshop on Samos during the summer, the Share PSI network are preparing for their second meeting in Lisbon. This will be 3-4 December at the National Laboratory for Civil Engineering.

The second workshop is entitled “Encouraging open data usage by commercial developers” which is a subject of some interest to Data Unlocked, and so I’m really pleased to be going there to represent Birmingham.

If you are interested in attending there are several ways in which you can participate:

  1. Lead a session. This entails facilitating a discussion. It may begin with a very short set up presentation but 90% of the time should be allocated for discussion. Proposals should not be academic papers but descriptions of the discussion you would like to lead and the experiences you have to offer. These are expected to be 1 or 2 pages in length and will fill slots in the Open Track.
  2. Give a plenary talk. Longer papers, up to a maximum of 5 pages in length, are invited for consideration as the basis of a plenary presentation of which no more than 3 are expected to be presented at the workshop.
  3. If you would like to attend but do not wish to lead a session or give a plenary presentation, please outline your interest in a short position paper. The intention is to make sure that participants have an active interest in the area, and that the workshop will benefit from their presence.

I really enjoyed the first workshop. The network has some strong partners involved and the standard of presentations was really high. We’ve changed the format around for the second workshop so there’s more opportunity for participation by delegates, with both pre-programmed and open sessions planned. We are also running the workshop in parallel with the LAPSI 2.0 and LIDER projects giving lots of networking opportunities.

The call for participation closes on Sunday, so if you want to come along you’ll need to be quick.

Digital Birmingham – part of the Share PSI network

Share-PSI 2.0 is “the European network for the exchange of experience and ideas around implementing open data policies in the public sector”. It consists of 44 partners from 25 countries, including Birmingham City Council. Through my work with the West Midlands Open Data Forum I was invited by Digital Birmingham to attend the kick off meeting in April and then the recent workshop which formed part of this year’s Samos Summit.

The Share PSI Network Logo
The Share PSI Network

The Samos workshop had the title “Uses of open data within government for innovation and efficiency” and consisted of a wide range of presentations, a mini-bar camp and a project meeting. Amanda Smith from the Open Data Institute has already written a post about the workshop and an extensive report of the proceedings has been written up by Phil Archer, the project’s technical co-ordinator from the W3C.

So, instead of a report back, here are just four of the things I took away from the Samos workshop:

  • Data quality, or a lack of it, is still a significant issue for many public sector organisations. It can both be a reason for not publishing as well as something that can be improved through publication, especially where feedback mechanisms are provided. In Birmingham, when Open Street Map volunteers created a gritting map from the city’s data they were able to feedback anomalies to the city, which improved their data.
  • We need to get a lot better at telling stories and helping others to tell them. Open Data evangelists aren’t always great at communicating their work. This can mean that the potential impact of our work is not always reached and/or recognised. At the workshop, Julia Hoxha reported that, in Albania, every “domestic media organization has published or quoted at least once the reports released in the Open Data Albania or Spending Data Albania platforms”.  This has been a result of the Open Data Albania project actively working with the media both inside and outside the country.
  • Good case studies of the benefits of open data are needed to encourage ongoing publication. Bart van Leeuwen’s presentation on “Experiences with Open data in the fire department” [pdf] was a highlight of the conference for many. Bart was able to give a range of practical examples of the benefits of open data for him and his colleagues working as firefighters in Amsterdam. It’s heartening to hear such examples as somebody who promotes and uses open data and it provides great material to share with people who want to know the purpose of publishing open data.
  • Everyone wants to know where crime is happening. Amanda Smith gave a very well received paper about the ongoing development of Police.uk. The site has 60m visits since January 2011 and continues to prove a popular resource (Data Unlocked download data from the site, and Mike Cummins recently used police.uk data in a presentation to the Civic Foundry‘s Skill Share week). Knowing what your popular open datasets are likely to be is really useful. I’d like to see more sharing of this between people working in local government. The work that Hampshire Hub are doing in this area could be really valuable, and it’s well worth following.

The next workshop is going to be in Lisbon in December. It’s topic area is Encouraging data usage by commercial developers, an area of obvious interest to us at Data Unlocked =0) The call for participation is already open. I’ve agreed to be on the organising committee and we’d really like to hear from people who are interested in presenting a paper at the workshop. I can certainly recommend taking part, as I gained a lot from the Samos workshop.

Mobilising for Action

Bull Ring at night (Creative Commons www.photoeverywhere.co.uk/)
Bull Ring at night (Creative Commons http://www.photoeverywhere.co.uk/)

The Birmingham Smart City Commission has established a number of thematic working groups, based on discussions with its members, with the aim of establishing a programme of strategic priorities and activity that will support delivery of Birmingham’s Smart City Roadmap. All activity aims to embed the principles of and address the strategic aims set out in the Roadmap:

  • Use of digital technologies and information to increase capacity of existing infrastructure and services
  • A joined up, integrated approach to service delivery across all sectors
  • Release and access to data
  • Citizen involvement, cooperation and citizen focused service delivery

Each working group is chaired by a lead representative from the Smart City Commission who is responsible for progressing the Smart City principles alongside the needs of the sector / area and its membership focused on practical actions that deliver real outcomes.

Working Groups and leads are as follows:

Benchmarking and Progress – Mark Barber, KPMG
Civic Economy – Jas Bains, Ashram Moseley Housing
Education, Skills & Innovation – David Hardman, Innovation Birmingham Ltd
Energy – TBC
Health – Tim Jones, UHB
Mobility – Nick Gregg, Amey
Open and Big Data – Bjorn Birgisson, Aston University

We are holding a meeting at the end of September to bring together the leads above with the Chair of the Commission (Cllr. Lisa Trickett – Cabinet Member – Green, Smart and Sustainable City) to agree the framework and collective vision that will ensure an integrated  approach across the themed areas.

You can read more about the results from the stakeholder analysis, undertaken with the Commission members and supported by Mark Barber from KPMG that helped to inform the development of the working groups and the timeplan for next steps here

How Big Data Will Break Traditional Business Intelligence Teams

The war has raged for as long as anyone can remember. Through countless cycles of off-shoring, acquisitions, out-sourcing, mergers and technological change; the battle between the standardisers and the disruptors has continued within companies all over the world.

The Standardisers

Brought up on a strict dogma of “don’t repeat yourself (DRY)” and “one version of the truth”, they pride themselves on efficiency and purity. There will only be one way to do anything, and each thing will be done by only one team. The result will be only one set of data regarding what has been done. Audits will be simple, metrics will be easy to calculate, the numbers will always add up and handing change will be — “I’m sorry, handling cha…what?”

The Disruptors

The disruptors, do not directly disagree with the standardisers, after all, the standardisers’ logic is hard to argue with. However, the disruptors were brought up on different doctrines. They prefer to “Keep it Simple, Stupid (KISS)” and “ask for forgiveness, not permission”. They prefer to make money, rather than to save money.

The disruptors want to extend the company’s frontier rather then engage in direct conflict with the standardisers. The standardisers are often to be found chasing disruptors across newly gained territory, hoping one day to catch up. Occasionally though, a band of intrepid disruptors run into a native standardiser settlement. When that happens, things can get messy.

And so the war rumbles on, across open fields of Sales, canyons of new Product Development, oceans of IT and the dark and ominous forests of Human Resources and Legal.


Post written by Innovation Birmingham Campus based, Daniel Thompson
Daniel is the founder of Tech start-up – D4 Software and the creator of QueryTree. You can follow him on twitter: @d4nt and read more of his blog posts here>>