** KICKING OFF THE OPEN GOVERNMENT PROJECT (http://data.gov.uk/blog/kicking-open-government-project)
It feels more like ‘kicking it back out of the long grass’ but the Open Government project is looking for input on the National Action Plan. It’s a typically short notice event but if you can’t make London they are asking for input in a number of ways.
** WHO KNEW CONTRACTS COULD BE SO INTERESTING? (http://www.transparency.org.uk/news-room/12-blog/1293-who-knew-contracts-could-be-so-interesting)
Indeed! A nice look at where the UK government is in terms of contracting transparency (a part of its open government action plan – see above). Given the near doubling of the amount spent on outsourcing under the coalition, it’s a big bug bear for many that the whole process of contracting is so opaque especially when you throw in the odd G4S story or similar to ramp up nervousness. Reading this reminded me of a call by the (among MANY others) the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (http:// http://blogs.ncvo.org.uk/2015/03/25/transparency-in-government-contracting/) for a transparency clause in contracting.
** CALL FOR MORE OPEN DATA STANDARDS (http://www.ukauthority.com/news/5482/gds-makes-fresh-push-on-open-standards)
Some of you may have seen the news this week about a report recommending that people should be able to text 999 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-33438008) . But it seems that just as people are thinking of new ways to report incidents, the framework to share and store those incidents needs work. The government Digital Service has floated a proposal on open standards to support emergency services when they have to share information to deal with an incident. Much of the focus in development on this and other standards (and I guess it also shows how much of an issue it is) is based around having a common location point:
“The call for a standard to support property or place address information reflects the lack of a canonical form for an address in government data, whereby there are no rules as to whether it should include the borough, county or country.”
Given the number of consultations, developments etc. around (open)data standards at Government level there’s a risk that developers who are looking to build business on open gov data would do well to be part of the development or set aside as much time understanding Gov structures and processes as making cool apps.
** READING TRANSPORT OPEN DATA CHALLENGE (http://www.reading.gov.uk/pressreleases/2015/jul/winner-announced-reading-s-open-data-challenge/)
Reading Borough Council has announced the winner of its two week challenge for app developers to use data from its transport portal. It’s one of those stories, like the Split story below, that you could pass over as another hack event but it’s worth a second look. Reading seem to have put togethera pretty impressive collection of Transport Data (http://opendata.reading-travelinfo.co.uk/) including a network of Bluetooth powered tracking devices.They’ve also raised the bar on hackathon prizes! (http://www.reading-travelinfo.co.uk/media/105511/tide-reading-open-data-challenge.pdf)
** LGA DATA NOW HAS AN API (http://www.ukauthority.com/local-digital-news-blog/entry/5472/lga-opens-up-data-in-an-api-to-local-government-partners)
If you use LG Inform (http://lginform.local.gov.uk/) and LG Inform Plus (http://about.esd.org.uk/about) then the data from those services now available through an API (http://api.esd.org.uk/)
“The API will allow organisations such as charities, housing associations and businesses to access more than 3,000 items of data for use in new or existing apps and web-based services, such as local community council dashboards”
One application they cite that uses the data is Cloudover (http://stark-fortress-7714.herokuapp.com/) (pictured above) a persona driven dashboard!
** CITYMAPPER INTERVIEW (http://theodi.org/news/citymapper-government-open-data-improve-cities?utm_content=bufferb26d3&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer)
Sticking with the transport theme, the ODI have a nice interview with Citymapper’s General Manager Omid Ashtari. It’s an interesting read. One quote that stuck out for me was:
I think we [developers] should do what we’re best at and they [governments] should do what they’re best at. [Transport authorities] deliver clean, on-time, reliable public transport and we’ll take the data and build the best in class, cutting-edge app that has really cool things.
It’s popular rhetoric – do what you do best and let us do the rest – but you’d also expect that data would be a key part of them delivering that cleaner, on-time service. How much those outside can demand that they also work to make the data work for ‘cool stuff’ seems to be the crux of open data success.
** THREE MODELS FOR CIVIC HACKERS (http://opensource.com/government/15/6/3-models-civic-hackers-green-field-cloned-augmentation)
A nice article about different ways of thinking about hacking projects beyond the bright and shiny ‘green fields’ approach of always having to create something new.
** WHY WE ARE HAVING THE WRONG CONVERSATIONS ABOUT OPEN DATA (http://www.routefifty.com/2015/07/los-angeles-ron-galperin-controller-open-data/116935/)
Ron Galperin, Controller for the City of Los Angeles thinks that “government agencies will miss out on the true potential of open data if they see themselves merely as publishers—instead of key consumers of public data.”
He has an interesting take on the use of portals which immediately made me reflect the research I featured in a previous gazette,
“Metrics consistently show that half of the traffic to most open data portals comes from internal users—employees and managers with the expertise to analyze data and use it to increase productivity.”
** SPLIT: CAR-POOLING DRIVEN BY OPEN DATA (http://technical.ly/dc/2015/07/02/dcs-carpooling-app-split-fueled-open-data/)
Split is a car sharing app, launched in DC that makes big use of open data – sounds like the kind of thing you’d hear pitched at any open data hackathon. But the story behind the app is fascinating. The way it’s moved from almost a University spin-out in Finland to a VC backed product in the US is one part. But it’s also interesting to see how city level legislation played its part in opening up the market. It’s not easy, the same legislation opened up the market for Uber – I’ve no problem with Uber but we’ve seen recently how that goes down. In this case its positive unintended consequences for open data but something that needs thought..
** UK DATA SERVICE (http://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/)
If you don’t know about the UK Data Service, imagine that in principle they are the ODI for academics and you’ve pretty much got the idea. In practice they hold a huge amount of ‘open’ data from academic research. A quick search throws up some interesting datasets (http://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/?q=Leeds) . You never know what you might find.
Visualizations and interesting stuff – small cameras on skateboards – because I know some of you love your boards and who wouldn’t want an eye on your nose – and more….