Exploring Grant Awards in the UK – Open Data Manchester March 17

GrantNav brings together information about grants awarded by a variety of funders in the UK. Because the data is published with a common standard, it’s easy to create analyses and visualisations that a) work for any of the funders’ data and b) can compare grant portfolios across funders.

You can download the whole dataset as a csv file. It’s also available to browse in GrantNav, a 360Giving application released under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike License (CC-BY-SA). Please see GrantNav’s copyright and attribution list for details on the original data sources.

The grants.csv table has a row per award with columns describing a variety of attributes such as date of award, amount awarded, recipient, funder and beneficiary.

We created some exploratory visualisations of this data at last months’ Open Data Manchester workshop – “Getting to Grips with Data”. The idea with exploratory analysis is that you start with some data and you simply want to know what is there – to uncover the shape and scope. You can get to grips with a dataset by understanding what dimensions or variables it includes and what values those variables take. You would typically use summaries like frequency tables, cross tabulations, and distributional analysis. These statistical descriptions provide views into the data which quickly provoke questions about the patterns within.

One aspect we chose to explore was the size of grants awarded (in the Amount Awarded column). Two things soon became apparent: first, that each funder has a very different award portfolio, and second, that the amounts tended to cluster around certain values. This seemed intuitive – since funding is often offered with specific thresholds, we might expect applicants to design their projects with these in mind, asking for more or less money than they might otherwise have done.

We settled on an analysis called a “cumulative frequency distribution” as a way of visualising these aspects. We’ll explain this in detail below, but, since a picture speaks a thousand words, we invite you to take a look at the chart first. Feel free skip the technical description and jump to read about the conclusions we can draw from this data graphic.

Distribution of Grants by Value


What is a cumulative frequency distribution?

A frequency distribution tells us how common certain values are across a range. Whereas an average provides a summary of a set of values by telling us about the middle, a frequency distribution tells us about the middle, ends and all the values in between. The same average value can arise from many different distributions (e.g. a few very small values and many large ones or many small values and a few very large ones). The distribution is calculated by taking a range (e.g. £0 – £1,000,000), then dividing it into bins (e.g. £0-99, £100-999, £1,000-4,999 …), then counting the number of values that fall into each bin – aka the frequency (e.g. £0-99: 100 grants, £100-999: 363 grants, £1,000-4,999: 789 grants etc). These can be a bit tricky to interpret however, as the frequency depends upon the bin size.

A cumulative frequency distribution take a cumulative tally of frequencies. Whereas a frequency distribution might say “there were x awards between 10,000-15,000” a cumulative distribution would say “there were x awards up to 15,000”. This makes the interpretation slightly easier as we can say “x awards were less than £y”. In order to compare funders – who each make different numbers of awards – we’ve transformed the frequencies into a proportion by dividing by the total number of awards made by each – i.e. “x% of awards at were less than £y”.

How should I interpret the chart?

We can then plot the cumulative frequency distribution – here we’ve mapped the amount awarded on to the horizontal x-axis and the cumulative proportion of award by number on to the vertical y-axis.

Given that distribution is highly skewed (there are many small grants, and few large ones) we’ve transformed the x-axis using a logarithmic scale (with base 10). That means that each step along the scale represents a 10 fold increase in the £ amount (a typical linear scale would map an constant £ amount for each step). Practically speaking, this helps to spread the curves out across the graphic so that they’re easier to distinguish and not bunched-up on the left, making better use of the space available.

The curves show the proportion of each funder’s awards that were made up to a given size of award. Flatter vertical segments indicate many awards being made with that amount, flatter horizontal segments indicate fewer awards being made over a range of amounts. Where one curve is above another, that indicates that they focus more of their awards at that level (i.e. making more awards by number, relative to the total number in their portfolio).

What does this analysis tell us about grant funding in the UK?

Let’s return to the chart again. What can you see?

There are clear vertical segments around funding thresholds. This is most obvious in the case of the Big Lottery Fund, around the £5,000 and £10,000 mark.

We can also see some funders focus on a narrow range – the Lloyds Bank Foundation, for example, makes around 90% of it’s awards between £10,000 and £50,000 – whereas the Dulverton Trust and the Northern Rock Foundation have a much broader spread.

The BBC’s Children in Need fund does have an obvious threshold at £10,000, like the Big Lottery Fund, but actually makes most of its awards at a higher level (up to around £100,000).

The Esmée Fairbairn Foundations – the right-most curve across most of the range, focusses on larger awards with around a third over £100,000.

How do I make one of these?

You will no doubt be able to make other comparisons, and draw other conclusions from the graphic. Indeed it probably provokes more questions. What would this look like in terms of proportion of funding by value (instead of by number of awards)? How does this compare in absolute terms (i.e. overall number of awards, not proportion)? What about the smaller funders we removed to make the chart easier to read?!

If you’d like to find answers to those questions, or explore other parts of the dataset, then you can find the R code used to generate the analysis and graphics on github. We introduce the data.table library used to make summary tables and the ggplot2 library used to design and create the visualisations. You can also follow-along with the exploration process and find links to learning resources in the comments placed throughout the source-code.

Follow Robin Gower on Twitter @robsteranium

Provisional programme for 2017

IMG_0066From last night’s planning meeting we now have a provisional programme for 2017 and it is quite an ambitious one. What is great from our perspective is that there is a continuation of a number of themes that we have been looking at over the last year and a resurfacing of perennial ones. Highlights include the ‘making and doing’ workshops that have been developed as part of the Echo Chambers and ‘Post-Fact’ Politics programme and the Visualising Data workshops. There are a number of sector and technically specific events but one to watch out for is alternative ways of looking at the world which will be a day of walks, talks and explorations. As always there is a large dose of how data and technology impact on society and much more.

This is a provisional programme and we are looking for as much input as possible (Dates and sessions are subject to change). Please click on the Google Doc and add comments. We are looking for people who can contribute, sponsors, venues and partners.

Link to Google Doc

Screen Shot 2016-11-30 at 10.37.12

Screen Shot 2016-11-30 at 10.37.27

Echo5

A one-day workshop to develop new ways of tackling a ‘post-fact’ world

12th November 2016, 10.00 – 16.00. The Shed, Chester Street, Manchester
The event is free, register here

We live in interesting times. Trust in, and respect for experts seems to be declining-  Michael Gove recently said that we’ve ‘had enough of experts’. Increasingly online platforms quietly tailor what we encounter to fit our existing views- creating echo chambers out of our prejudices. At the same time political issues are becoming more and more complex as science and technology advances and society becomes more complicated.

These and other changes seem like a perfect storm for breeding a dystopian world in which the importance of evidence slowly slips out of view. But at the same time technology also offers hope for more enlightened debate- with the internet creating many new opportunities to engage, learn, and create. So we want to do something about these issues.

We want to draw together people with a wide range of experience and interest to try and unpick these issues and think what we can start developing ways of tackling these. Whether you’re an artist, an activist, a policy wonk, or simply someone interested in this area we want to hear your ideas.

We will be using an ‘unconference’ style, which means that people who come to the event will shape what we talk about. The aim will be to identify where the challenges lie and think of potential solutions, leading to a future event where we will develop these ideas further and- hopefully- start to get them built.

To start the discussion we will be creating a website and encourage people to submit short blogs related to the theme.

Register here

This event is organised by Open Data Manchester and The Democratic Society with the kind support of Manchester Metropolitan University and Digital Innovation at MMU

Logos

Making data useful and other stories – How GM authorities are using data to help their citizens

6.30pm – 8.30pm, Tuesday 27th September 2016
Greenheys Business Centre
Manchester Science Park
Pencroft Way
Manchester M15 6JJ

Map here

Sign up on Eventbrite here

This month’s Open Data Manchester looks at how two local authorities are using data to deliver service.

Alison Mckenzie Folan and Alison Hughes from Wigan Council will show how they are using data and open data to help them engage the community, target resources and enhance services. Wigan Deal has been seen as an exemplar of engagement between the public sector, local businesses and community.

Jamie Whyte leads Trafford Innovation Lab which has been developing new and innovative ways to make open data understandable. The insight created has enabled community groups to use data to help them apply for funding, created resources for councillors and shown a spotlight onto the complex world of school admissions

Open Data Manchester events are spaces for learning, discussion and collaboration. The events are open and free

What happened? Looking at the data behind the referendum

Tuesday 26th July, 18.30 – 20.30
CoopHQ, 1 Angel Meadows, Manchester M60 0AG

Partial truths, distorted facts and outright lies have helped create the febrile climate that exists post Brexit. The information war that took place prior to the referendum created an atmosphere in which rational judgements were hard to make and gut instinct rose to the fore. Within this context, advocates of Vote Leave rubbished experts and mishandled facts with glee. Anyone contesting these claims were branded as promoters of Project Fear and part of the expert-led conspiracy that sought to undermine the public’s right to self-determination.

Post referendum and the dust hasn’t yet settled. We are starting to see lots of data giving us insight into what happened – from polls to voting patterns, from demographics to economic forecasts. This is an opportunity to analyse and share thoughts on a most extraordinary event.

We are an open forum and anyone who has insight and analysis to share are encouraged to participate.

Tickets are free and available here

Open Election Special – March 31st

Tuesday 31st March 6.30pm – 8.30pm
Spaceport X
1st Floor
24-26 Lever Street
Manchester
M1 1DZ
More details and directions here

Sign up on Eventbrite here

The country will go to the polls on May the 7th and decide the government that will represent us over the next five years. In many boroughs local elections will also be taking place.

Five years ago Open Data Manchester advocated for making available data relevant to the elections. Chris Taggart who was at the time working on OpenlyLocal came and did a presentation about the Open Election Data initiative and explained why we need to have relevant open data about those that seek to represent us and the election process.

This month’s event looks at what has changed, whether access to these data has improved and what we can do to make the process and choosing of our representatives more understandable.

The event is a precursor to an election data hack event that will be taking place later in April.

More details will be released nearer the date.

As ever Open Data Manchester is a forum for anyone who is interested in open data and we encourage people to come along and share their interests and propose new sessions and events.

For more details contact Julian

Reproducibility in Science and Policy – An Open Data Manchester January Special

6.30pm – 8.30pm, Tuesday 27th January 2015
Greenheys Business Centre
Manchester Science Park
Pencroft Way
Manchester M15 6JJ

Map here

Sign up on Eventbrite here

We kick off a packed 2015 Open Data Manchester calendar with an evening exploring the reasons why we need to have reproducibility when it comes to creating new knowledge. Our two guest speakers, Professor Carole Goble CBE and Ellen Broad will be our guides.

The ability to independently verify the result of scientific research has long been one of the main principles of scientific method. By creating reproducible research – through publishing the methods, code and data along with the scientific paper – others can reproduce the results and create new work from this research. Although this might seem an essential position to take for the creation of better science it is not universally implemented.

Reproducibility in policy is an emerging area. Like science it would seem to be an essential component for making good policy decisions that can then be tried and tested by others. Allowing scrutiny of the methods and underlying data used to make a policy decision has the possibility of creating a more informed electorate and an environment for building on robust evidence based policy decisions.


Biographies

Carole Goble is a Full Professor in the School of Computer Science, at the University of Manchester in the UK. She leads a large team of researchers and developers working in e-Science. She applies technical advances in knowledge technologies, distributed computing, workflows and social computing to solve information management problems for Life Scientists, especially Systems Biology, and other scientific disciplines, including Biodiversity, Chemistry, Health informatics and Astronomy. Her current research interests are in reproducible research, asset curation and preservation, semantic interoperability, knowledge exchange between scientists and new models of scholarly communication. She has been advocating the releasing of research as Research Objects (www.researchobject.org).

In 2008 she was awarded the Microsoft Jim Gray award for outstanding contributions to e-Science and in 2010 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. In 2014 she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty The Queen for her Services to Science.

Ellen joined the ODI in September 2014 as Policy Lead, where her role is to provides advice to government and the private sector on how it can capitalise on open data, and engage on issues affecting access to and re-use of data. 

Ellen’s background is in copyright law and policy, focused on its intersection with and impact on internet services and new technologies. Ellen started in this area as Executive Director of the Australian Digital Alliance (ADA) before moving to a role as Manager of Digital Policy & Projects for the International Federation of Library Associations & Institutions (IFLA) based in The Hague. Ellen will totally nerd out on arcane details of EU and international copyright law if given an opening (so think carefully about looking too interested).

Outside of copyright and data, Ellen plays drums (badly), reads books and longs for Australian sunshine.

Open Data Manchester – July Edition

6.30pm – 8.30pm Tuesday 29th July 2014
Greenheys Business Centre
Manchester Science Park
Pencroft Way
Manchester M15 6JJ

Map here

Sign up on Eventbrite here

This month’s Open Data Manchester is a chance to see some of the open data initiatives being led by Salford and Trafford Councils, and hear about some of the highlights of the Open Knowledge Festival taking place in Berlin 14-17th July

Amongst the data initiatives taking place, Trafford are looking to develop an Intelligence and Innovation Lab, which will take the principles by which InfoTrafford was developed, and use them to bring together a greater range of datasets from Trafford’s organisations. Accompanying these datasets will be the people from the respective organisations who understand the data – where it comes from, how to get it, and, crucially, what stories the data tells. This means that the right people will be sitting and working together – using their collective insight and knowledge to give greater understanding of the needs and opportunities in Trafford. The Lab will be focussed on the release of data as 5* linked data. Trafford is looking to create an environment where digital social innovation methods can be used to help people get things done – from giving practitioners a space to test innovative ideas that may help shape services, to allowing developers the opportunity to see and request datasets, and test apps with a potential user base. Jamie Whyte from Trafford will talk about the Intelligence and Innovation Lab and how you can get involved.

John Gibbons from Salford City Council will talk about the work they are doing relating to the European Commission INSPIRE regulations. INSPIRE seeks to create a common and shared geospatial infrastructure to allow strategic and sustainable development. It is a little understood initiative outside the GIS community, but as it is underpinned by European Commission legislation to which the UK has signed up to, it has the potential to have a large impact on the release of geospatial data.

As always, there will be opportunity to discuss and share ideas, and hear about the latest opportunities in open data.

Open : Data : Cooperation – OKFEST Fringe Meeting 16th July 2014

OKF DE Office
3rd Floor
Singerstraße 109
10179 Berlin
Map

Wednesday 16th July, 6 – 8pm

Please sign up on Eventbrite here as numbers are limited.

Join us for an informal discussion around data cooperatives.  From personal data co-operatives, through to organisation-level collaboration, there is a lot of interest around the notion of a data cooperative. Whilst the idea of member-owned organisations and open data seems logical, a number of interesting discussion points arise:

Models: How do the varied models of cooperative ownership fit to data?
Simplicity: Can one model fit all data?
Transparency: How can a cooperative that is steered by its membership along ethical grounds also be considered open?
Representation: Do individuals have enough control over their data to enable third party organisations such as a cooperative, to represent their data?
Negotiation: How can cooperative members balance control over their data with use by third parties?
Governance: How would you create an efficient system of governance that respected the wishes of all members?

Open Data Manchester will be hosting an informal discussion around these issues in a fringe meeting at OK Festival in Berlin on Wednesday 16th July at 6pm 3rd Floor Singerstraße 109, 10179 Berlin. https://goo.gl/maps/q4Gvj

The meeting will is a precursor to a larger event around cooperatives and data to be hosted in Manchester, UK at the end of October

Further reading:
Annmarie Naylor – Common Futures
http://commonfutures.eu/developing-data-coops-for-community-benefit/
Julian Tait – Open Data Manchester
http://littlestarmedia.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/data-custodianship-and-cooperatives/

Open Data Manchester March Edition – GMDSP Data Dive

6.30 – 8.30pm, Monday 24th March 2014

Tech Hub Manchester
3rd Floor
Carver’s Warehouse
77 Dale Sreet
Manchester
M1 2HG
Map here

This March’s Open Data Manchester is a special event held in partnership with our friends at FutureEverything. Since September they have been working on the Greater Manchester Data Synchronisation Programme (GMDSP) – a groundbreaking open data initiative that forges links between the code community and local authorities. GMDSP works with the 10 Greater Manchester local authorities to release corresponding datasets as linked open data. This has been done by placing coders (Code Fellows) many from the Open Data Manchester community, in the local authorities to help identify and transform data.

GMDSP_Logo_Full_text

The Data Dive is a chance to see and understand the work being done, talk to the teams releasing the data and more importantly get a heads up regarding the challenges that will be set for the GMDSP Coding Challenge taking place as part of FutureEverything on the weekend of 29th and 30th March.

Sign up for the Data Dive Here

Refreshments will be provided

GMDSP is a partnership between FutureEverything, Connected Digital Economy and Future Cities Catapults working with Manchester City, Salford City and Trafford Metropolitan Borough Councils