Media Mill Gazette 24

What’s next for community journalism, open data impact, sensors and IOT. Oh and maps on t-shirts.

** Community Journalism Conference. Cardiff

Last week saw the Centre for Community Journalism’s What next for community Media conference. One of the major ‘events’ was the release of a ‘meta’ report, funded by Nesta, on the current state of hyperlocal ( with a number of recommendations around funding and recognition. If you want a steer on how this kind of stuff is being lobbied (not least with the Beeb) then the report is a good primer.

It was an interesting if busy couple of days, with a good showing from Hebe. Lee got a lot of interest in the city talking and the relationship between them and the Yorkshire Post in particular. I had five minutes to talk about Media Mill and had some interesting chats afterwards about attitudes to data and related issues. Take aways for me looking at other peoples roundups are; Theres a tonne of really powerful journalism going on; there are no answers to the issue of money; many feel the definition of community media is getting a little lost in the techno/online focussed interest in hyperlocal

The presentations from the day are appearing online ( and there are several good posts that not only develop these issues but also collect links to other ( s. All are worth a read.

** Why is understanding about fuel poverty in the Cambridge Sub-region important? (

A ‘data story’ from Cambridgeshire insight open data – which is Cambridgeshire’s councils open data ‘partnership’ hub. This is a good example of sharing data and owning a story. It doesn’t editorialise but there’s bags of useful information that could be echoed (or checked) by a more journalistic platform. I think we’re going to see more of this as messages get mixed or watered down by third parties using Local council data.

** Department of Health to speed up responses to media and Full Fact (

Independent, non-partisan, fact checking charity Fullfact have picked up on a department health communication on new measures to equip press offices with data. It says “An internal ‘data document’ will provide press officers with links to sources for each factual claim made in a speech, as well as contact details for the official or analyst who provided the information.” It’s an interesting move and it makes visible a process thats been creeping in round the edges. It’s been interesting for example, to see how content from Parliamentary briefings on Refugees from Syria have become common language ( in the last few weeks. The more this stuff becomes visible the better and there are, given the fuel poverty example above, maybe lessons for local government here too.

** Campaign to be launched to have North East recognised as open data leader (

The North East is vying for pole position in the open data stakes with a conference and then “a year-long programme of activity which will include the creation of a regional open data portal, hackathons focused on using this data to improve the delivery of services and an open hack night which will span the North East.”

** A Tale of Two Open Data Sets (

A really nice blog post from Terence Eden ( that tells a sorry tail of how FOI remains a far from consistent process. Terence wanted to know the location of all the fire hydrants in his area. His reasoning is straight out of the open data value handbook – knowing it might help make better decisions on insurance etc. The story ends up more like Kafka. Worth a read.

** Nearly 200 councils breached NO2 limits in 2013 (

Air quality data is something that’s cropped up before in the Gazette and this is a nice intersection of data and community service. The breakdown to local government level wasn’t good enough for liberal Democrat MP for Leeds North West, Greg Mulholland, who had sought to find out which postcodes in the UK had breached limits for air pollution. But according to he was told “With over 1 million postcodes in the UK the information requested could only be converted into postcode level data at a disproportionate cost”. A gap in the market that open data thinking could fill.

** Open Data Companion (ODC) – Bringing Open Data to the Mobile Platform (

This is a framework for an Android app that pulls in CKAN feeds. It’s a good example of what can be done when platforms all speak the same language. I’m not sure you’ll see it being whipped out in the pub to settle an argument about the organgram of your local council. But as a data ‘probe’ it is, at the very least, a pointer to the growing ubiquity of the concept of open data.

** Google trial Popular Times feature on mobile (

Google have rolled out a new feature on Google maps. It’ll tell you the popular times at particular businesses ( . So if you’re thinking of popping out for a burger you can see if you’ll be in a queue or not. The data is collected from android users who have opted to allow Google access to location. I’m sure it also does other clever things with other search data as well. It could be a really interesting layer to add to any city centre data and there is already a request to have this data available by the Google Maps API. As with all google things it may live long or die young but it’s one to watch and access to the data would be really useful.

** UK Gov Launches internet of things initiative (

The UK gov, through the digital and future cities catapults, has launched iotuk ( ‘CONVENING AND AMPLIFYING THE UK’S IOT INDUSTRY TO HELP BUSINESS AND ECONOMIC GROWTH”. You can register your interest on their new site.

** Tracking cities by mobile use (

If mobile data insights, like popular times, is your cup of tea, then maybe the MIT Many Cities project might be of interest. It explores the spatio-temporal patterns in mobile phone usage in some of the worlds major cities.

** Companies House investigates large firms’ reluctance to provide open financial data (

According to Computer Weekly, “The public registrar Companies House wants to understand why FTSE100 organisations have resisted its call to file accounts as open data”. It’s an interesting tack from the department that converst all its fillings into PDF – not exactly open.

** The Impact of Open Data – Initial Findings from Case Studies (

Some good headline findings on open data in this report from the Omidyar Network (big funder of the ODI)

** How Scotland made its council audit data less open (with happy ending) (

A good piece by Paul Bradshaw that looks at the way re-packaging open data to do access to KPI’s doesn’t always mean better quality open data.

** English life expectancy catches up with the west but poorest lag behind (

An interesting story which is full of insights but short on data. One more to add to my list of frustratingly shareable-data-light stories from the supposed pioneers of data journalism (and supporters of the open data incubator)

** TfL will never make the ultimate travel app – but there is a very good reason (

More ‘open data thinking’ as Transport for London layout why its better for them to invest a small amount in publishing (still £1million) than large amounts in app development. That doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in it, they’re holding on to the payment side of things.

** Good stuff, continued (

Mark Braggins offers some good examples of how open data, chance and some ‘engineered serendipity’ work together

** Trinity Mirror go metrics and expand local

Two announcements from Trinity Mirror over the last week or two are worth a look. They’ve announced the next iteration of their newsroom restructuring, the connected newsroom ( . It’s a shift to a metrics driven newsroom which highlights how quickly analytics have become a key part of any newsroom. Earlier this week the flag went up that TM were interested in buying Localworld ( . It raises, depending on your standpoint, some interesting issues in terms of plurality and competition at a local level or a clearer target for collaboration.

** Interesting stuff

Open streetmap t-shirts, visualising sensor driven open data.