Media Mill Gazette 20

Air quality in Leeds. Accidents in Northern Ireland and Paleobiology Databases!

** Air Quality Leeds (

Project news, and a lovely open data driven bit of multimedia storytelling about air quality from HeBe. A nice little Tour fact :
“On the day of the Grand Départ, when cars were banned from the centre of Leeds and cyclists took over, NO2 levels dropped by 20%.”. Looking forward to seeing more of this kind of stuff.

Also nice to see a mention for the Leeds Data Mill in the North East. (

** York Open Data Schema (

Nice to see people picking up on the data stores involved in the media mill project. York have been working on this since July ( but a timely reminder on the power of structure as a key part of the value chain

** Open Data Resource Pack (

The Scottish government have released a useful resource pack on open data as part of their ongoing Open Data Strategy ( which they launched in February 2015 with an ambition for all public authorities to make data available online with an open license in a machine-readable format by 2017. It’s a useful guide even though the legal kind of stuff has some differences over the border.

** Two years of death and serious injury on Northern Ireland’s roads (

The first big output from DetailData, a collaboration between NI data journalism publisher The Detail and the NICVA which has featured here before. It’s a really nicely packaged, in-depth piece on road deaths. Data and content rich with a good return channel to the source data. I’ve been speaking to the people behind the project and from what they say (like Scotland), open data seems to be moving at a different pace in NI. If this is anything to go by, they are on the right track.

** Food and data – informed or overwhelmed? (

A nice intro to the issues and opportunities for data and food from NESTA – I guess in the light of the DEFRA announcement theres going to be more of this

** New simple guides for OS OpenData products (

A nice roundup of the latest stuff from the Ordnance Survey. The masterclass materials are particularly nice.



Smart ‘city demonstrator’ events announced (

“Local authorities seeking to develop smart or future city solutions are invited to a series of free regional events taking place across the country to learn how to build the business case for securing investment.” say InnovateUK. You can Register your interest to attend an event here. (

** Open Data Publishing & Discovery Workshop (Manchester) (

“The Open Data Institute (ODI) ( and Swirrl ( invite open data publishers and developers to a half-day workshop. This will be the first in a series of open data publishing and discovery workshops working with various individuals and organisations in data publishing and consumption. This workshop will showcase existing data publishing tools Grafter ( , CSV Lint ( and the data publishing, transformation and hosting platform DataGraft ( (developed by the DaPaaS ( research project).”

Sign up on the Eventbrite page. (

** How open data can help save lives (

Three case studies here for open data for good. You may have heard of Ushahidi ( , its been around a while and had a lot of play in the journalism world thanks to some early, heavy use by Al Jazera. But the other two examples of using open data to plan defibrillator placement ( and plan cycle journeys are good grassroots, local examples.

** Can Open Data Help Save the Amazon? (

You may be familiar with an old journalism rule called ‘Betteridge’s law of headlines’. In short it says that any headline posed as a question can usually be answered with ‘no’ . But there’s something to be said for infoamazonia project which looks to generate data for education and lobbying. I particularly like the low-cost water quality sensor. (

** Paleobiology Database (

An open database that allows users to explore the Paleobiology Database ( through space, time, and taxonomy. I know, it doesn’t sound that exciting but its nicely done and adds another source of data that adds depth to an area.

** We’ll see you, anon (

A nice piece that ways up the reality of the balancing act between privacy and open (and useful). Worth a read.

** Nominet Trust Report About Open Data for Charities Still Relevant Now (

The recent Kids Company stuff puts a perspective on this (and maybe the motivation for the reminder) but the title says it all. A nice round-up of the key points of Nominet’s 2012 report by Oxfordshire Community and Voluntary action group.

** Why you should use open data to hone your machine learning models (

This article has been doing the rounds amongst the open data/data science community for the last week. Two reasons for that I think. First is that it highlights a whacking great data set to play with if that’s your bag. Second, it uses the example of a netflx competition to beat its rating algorithm, to tell a great story of the mutual benefit of companies opening up data

** What factors influence transparency in US local government? Population density and education levels are significant. (

This short article is based on some research in the US which throws up some points of general interest. I was particularly drawn to the suggestion that
“as governments create strategic plans that include growth models, they should not only consider the budgetary ramifications of growth, but also the fact that educated residents want more web based interaction with government.” My gut reaction is that this is the norm and we need to really think about the others that don’t more.

** The Promise Of 5G (

An interesting feature on 5G which, like the article above, raises interesting questions about the haves and have nots. (I’m currently in Cornwall in the UK and any ‘G’ would be useful to the folks round here!) It’s interesting to reflect on how much of the open data app and service models I look at ‘assume’ access to a data service.

** One image shows what cities would look like without cars (

A nice piece by the Washington Post and a nice visualisation.

** 5 reasons why local government needs open source (

It’ll be interesting to know what you agree with and what you don’t in this article. There are some things in here that undersell local councils and their skill set at the same time as making some pretty utopian claims for open source. Does’t mean some of it isn’t true!

** OpenPlanning is making planning applications more accessible (

A nice write-up of mySociety’s work on the open planning portal in Hampshire (

** Data Driven Press Releases From HSCIC Data – Diabetes Prescribing (

If you’re not familiar with Tony Hirst and his work his blog ( is well worth a look for interesting code/data stuff. Here he shares a quick bit of code to make a press release from data. The idea of automated ‘stories’ has long been mooted (and hated) in the media – a search for algorithmic journalism should give you a good idea – but at a hyperlocal level I do wonder if code like this might be an effective way to generate localised storytelling as a first line of engagement.

** Here’s an open source transport and planning map of Greater Manchester to play with (

I’ve highlighted the Greater Manchester open data infrastructure map here before. But this article contains a nice step-by-step of how it might be used; in this case, areas that are getting poorly served by transport links.

** Open Data Intermediaries: Their Crucial Role (

Any research that uses the lens of Pierre Bourdieu’s model of capital is worth a look for me for no other reason than seeing how they’ve interpreted Pierre Bourdieu’s model of social capitial! Academic interest aside, this report is worth a look, not least for a snapshot of what a commercially(because they have to make money some how) mediated political system could look like.

** Visualisation: Little snippets of things that caught my eye.