MediaMill Gazette 47

Freedom of information, PDFs as open data and Trump’s short fingers.

Independent Commission on Freedom of Information release report

Lord Burns’ much  debated review of the Freedom of information act is finished and the report is out. The statement by Matt Hancock gives the best overview (of the bits they want to highlight anyway).

A couple of points worth highlighting on first pass:

  • FOI stats – the government wants more stats on “the operation of the Act” from public bodies. So its going to “issue guidance in the revised section 45 code of practice to set a standard that public authorities with 100 full time equivalent employees or more should publish such information.” 
  • Handling vexatious requests – its not clear in the statement what this will mean in practice other than a ‘improved guidance’ but there’s a clear response to the concern that ’embarrassing’ requests are being knocked back as vexatious: “the ‘vexatious’ designation is not an excuse to save public officials embarrassment from poor decisions or inappropriate spending of taxpayers’”
  • Greater transparency on pay and perks of senior staff  – and how do you stop that vexatious/embarrassing request – by being more transparent.

I’m sure there’ll be more analysis in the coming weeksAre PDFs open data
James Arthur Cattell started an interesting Twitter conversation over the weekend around PDFs and open data. It seems it was to get feedback for a workshop session, but it created some really interesting discussion – my take above which includes a link to Giuseppe Sollazzo’s interesting and philosophical reflection on the debate. It’s worth trawling James’ twitter feed for more and some interesting tweeting from #data4london

Consultations launched for local authority common digital standard
“If you work for a council I urge you to get involved to help deliver, not a business case or a nudge in the right direction, but the first Local Government Digital Service Standard for councils,”

Semi-open data about pricing of open data
I’ve been taking a look at who uses what platform for data portals  and In trying to get my head around costings etc. I came across this piece from 2013 which uses open data to try and get to the bottom of Socrata’s pricing structure.  BTW. the most popular open data portal used by English councils? It’s Datashare, a portal developed by the The London borough of Redbridge Council.

Funding:ODI Startup Programme
The ODI have another round of their startup programme – companies like Datapress and Spend Network . The next application deadline for the programme will be 31 March 2016. You can apply through the site above. 

Searching Open Data like never before
http://dataopen.eu/ is a new open data portal search engine which pulls together data from CKAN based open data portals. As an example from the sites designers: “If you search for “guitar” in data.gov.uk, you get 0 results. If you search for “guitar” in dataopen.eu / UK data, you get 11 relevant results,

Facing up to the Country and Western music – how hyperlocals can challenge traditional news brands
Emma Jones is a board member for IMPRESS (Independent Monitor for the Press is a Community Interest Company) and though this comes with the usual disclaimer that it doesn’t represent the views of impress, its an interesting view on the view of hyperocals which suffers a little from the curse of looking at them through the wrong end of a journalism telescope. For a slightly more rounded view (with an added Leeds flavour) try Richard Horseman’s beer infused take. 

Waiting for the Arrival of the Open Data Killer Application
Ahead of the next IODC conference in Spain Martín Álvarez-Espinar ponders the next step for open data“the reality is that we are still far from exploiting that great potential that open data bears and finding the killer application that will make this new paradigm a necessity, rather than an added value for our society”

From data basic to data die hard: Check out the EJC’s new online training platform
The European Journalism Centre has launched data journalism courses on its new training portal. Worth a look

Automatic police data for Trafford (and Greater Manchester!)
A neat use of the police.uk api to automatically populate Trafford Council’s Ward profiles – and a nice bit of sharing as well.

Police and academics developing system to map crime hotspots
And on the subject of crime…This one was greeted with more than a few cries of ‘did they learn nothing from the last time!’. But it’s the predictive element of this research thats new- cue inevitable Minority Report comparisons.

How to Build a Data Dashboard using R (knitr), HTML, and Javascript (e.g., Highcharts)
One for the techies here. A behind the scenes look at how one US city built its data dashboard.

Understanding the Past, Present and Future of Data Journalism
“The best way to change that perception is to stop talking about data journalism. It’s just journalism. Pure and simple. That’s a concept Florence Nightingale, John Snow and Horace Greely would no doubt understand. Hopefully their twenty-first century equivalents will too.”

Are Donald Trump’s fingers weirdly short? An investigation.
Serious Data Journalism Klaxon

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Print 3d tiles from LIDAR data

A nice recipe for 3d printing from Lidar data from Andrew Godwin. The results look pretty nifty.