Open Data Manchester launch

 

The Open Data Manchester story began a new chapter on Thursday 28th November with our launch at our new home of Federation in Manchester. It has been our mantra over the last eight years that we are guided by and seek to represent the interests of the data community in Greater Manchester, and the community is wide and diverse from people who use data in their day to day to data activists who seek information to further a cause. From public to private sector, from Diggle to Orrell and anywhere in between.

This new chapter starts with us being a Community Interest Company with a mission “To promote a fairer and more equitable society through the development of responsible and intelligent data practice”. Being a company will allow us to develop a more sustainable programme and be ambitious in what we do. We have a board of directors, Michelle Brook, Linda Humphries, Julian Tait, Farida Vis and Jamie Whyte with Julian also being the CEO.

After the introductions and talks from Linda, Julian and Jamie the attendees were invited to help guide what Open Data Manchester does by writing down suggestions as to what they wanted to do and what they wanted to see.

These suggestions have been broken down into three categories – activities, data and projects. These are listed at the end of this post. Over the coming months we shall endeavour to answer some of these requests and if you are interested in helping with them, let us know.

To get the ball rolling Open Data Manchester is using a Medium channel https://medium.com/@opendatamcr which we invite submissions. Subjects can be broad, but need to be relevant to our community of practice. They can be critical but not defamatory. If you need any help let us know and we will usually sub-edit before posting anyway.

Suggestions

Projects
Improve very local, community level data access
Understanding pregnancy and birth rates across the region
A ‘civic data authority’ not-for-profit partnership for Manchester
Understand how many children with learning difficulties are in the school system without support

Data
Pothole data for Manchester
Underused spaces in buildings that could be used by the community
Local government data: performance, spending, democracy
Budgets for mental health and wellbeing in schools
Ambulance times to destination across the region

Activity
An open ODM blog that all can submit posts too – Done
Expand the potential labour market and jobs available in GM
Helping with data literacy
Help with accountability for devolved power in GM
Work professionally and voluntarily with ODM Manchester
Make it easier to access tools, data and platforms for non-specialists
Hackathon
Open Data Hackathon (Defined objectives could be a ++)
Support and Open Data Manchester Data Dive

Internet of Things and Open Data Publishing

Tuesday October 3rd 10.30 – 13.30

FACT
88 Wood Street
Liverpool
L1 4DQ

Register for free here

If you have an interest in internet of things and how the data produced can contribute to the broader data economy, this is your chance to have a say.

The internet of things offers unparalleled means to create data from sensors, devices and the platforms behind them. This explosion of connectedness is creating huge opportunity for building new products and services, and enhancing existing ones. With these opportunities come some gnarly challenges. These exist around standards in data and protocols, security, discoverability, openness, ethics and governance. None of these are trivial but all of them need to be understood.

This workshop is for people involved in open data, Smart Cities and the internet of things who are starting to come up against and answer some of these challenges.

It is being run by Open Data Manchester and ODI Leeds for the Open Data Institute to look at the future of open data publishing and IoT

The Open Data Institute (ODI) is always working towards improvements in open data – from making it easier to find and use right through to refining and implementing standards. They are very keen to work with people who use open data to see what they can be doing to help and improve open data for everyone.

The workshops are open to everyone who wants to join in, contribute, or work with us. The output from the workshops will be put forward to the ODI and the UK government with recommendations on how open data should be published.

Refreshments and lunch will be provided.

If you can’t make it but would still like to contribute, we have an ‘open document’ available here. We encourage people to add their questions, comments, suggestions, etc.

After the workshop there is the launch of LCR Activate a £5m project led by Liverpool John Moores University with the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT) and the LCR Local Enterprise Partnership. A three-year European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) initiative using AI, Big Data/High Performance Computing, Merging Data and Cloud technologies for the benefit of SMEs in the Liverpool City Region. Register here.

Open Data Surgery – Open Data Manchester August

Tuesday 25th July 6.30pm – 8.30pm
Spaceport X
1st Floor
24-26 Lever Street
Manchester M1 1DZ

Sign up on Eventbrite here

This month we will be hosting an informal drop-in session for people with open data questions, projects and itches to scratch.

It is a chance to receive a free one-to-one consultation or join in a group discussion with open data experts.

If you have a specific question in mind or a decision that you want to make and are looking for general insight; have data already or are looking for specific data; or want to understand more about the open data landscape – this is for you.

Open Data Cooperation – Building a data cooperative

Last year Open Data Manchester held two workshops one in Berlin and the other in Manchester to explore whether cooperative structures could enable the creation of open data and personal data stores for mutual benefit. The idea of the mutual came out of an ongoing conversation between people within the cooperative movement and the open data world about the role of cooperatives, and the possibility that they could rebalance what many perceive as asymmetric relationship between data subjects (people with personal data) and data users (people who use data to develop services and products).

[slideshare id=47070639&doc=opendatacooperationv2-150416081428-conversion-gate02]

Background

Our modern technologised societies exist on data. Mostly these data are invisible and unknown to us. The services that we interact with, the daily transactions that we make and the way we negotiate through our everyday generate data, building a picture of who we are and what we do.  In the age of the Quantified Self there is a growing trend for self monitoring allowing us to track what we do and how feel when we do it. These data are valuable. Aggregated they enable organisations to predict, personalise and intervene seamlessly and sometimes invisibly. Even for the most technically literate, keeping track of what we do and don’t give away is daunting. Personal Information Management Services (PIMS) are starting to emerge offering people the chance to stem the unbridled exploitation of personal data by both public and private organisations whilst also creating monetary rewards for their users. Many of these commercial organisations seek to act as a brokerage service for personal data. The creation of data cooperatives that can act as PIMS have the potential to empower individuals to have more control over their data, creating value for themselves and their communities, and for people to have more of a say in the services that are built.

The sensational revelations by Edward Snowdon shone a spotlight on the personal data that is collected through the IT software and hardware infrastructure that we rely on today. Although highlighting that we unintentionally give away a lot, it perhaps hasn’t built  a wider popular discussion around protection and usage of personal data. It is inevitable that as the awareness about the data that we produce rises there will be a demand for services that give people more control. PIMS offer to deliver monetary value to users, but how much value is up for debate as there are differing methodologies to quantify it [OECD 2013]. Value can also be context dependant – data about someone exhibiting behaviours that might indicate a large purchase might be deemed more valuable by companies that manufacture or sell that item.

Data cooperatives are starting to emerge that have a broader social and ethical outlook than simple monetary transaction. The Good Data which allows people to control data flow at a browser level with benefits going to social causes and the Swiss-based Health Bank where personal health data is aggregated for the advancement of medicine, are examples of this. As the principles of data custodianship for social good become understood there becomes an opportunity for more to emerge.

Data cooperatives can represent the interests of data subjects and data users

Cooperatives come in many flavours, traditionally coming out of the needs of the membership who subscribe to them. Structures of these cooperatives have generally been organised around a single class of member – workers, producers, consumers, etc. The single class structure although creating an equitable environment for members, can tend towards self interest and even though they may be bound by the notion of common good, the mechanism for the creation of the common good or commons is seldom explicit.

Internationally the creation of new forms of cooperatives that explicitly express the development of common good, across multiple classes of stakeholders are more abundant. Social co-ops in Italy and Solidarity coops in Canada often provide services such as health and social care, education as well as community infrastructure projects.

The ability to have multiple classes of stakeholders within a data cooperative has the potential to create a more equitable environment for both data users and data subjects to exchange data. The influence of different classes within the organisations could be managed by fair distribution of voting rights with a user such as a research organisation having the same voting rights as a data subject.

Michel Bauwens founder of the P2P Foundation talks about the creation of these new forms of cooperatives, and how they can build a commons both material and immaterial. This commons would be subscribed to by other commons creating entities and licenced to non-commons creating organisations. This suggests a federated relationship between such organisations where commons is shared, could exist. But the challenge would be how to define the exchange within this system and if a cooperative contained both producers and users how does this affect the production of commons?

Would a data cooperative necessarily adopt these newer forms of distributed and commons creating structure? There appears to be a consensus that commons creating, multi-stakeholders cooperatives are positive, but they come with increased complexity. Can individual circumstances especially when dealing with communities based around sensitive issues, create an environment for sharing beyond a single class of stakeholder? A single class cooperative may seem to be a simpler, immediate solution for a community of people who have specific needs and issues and where strong trust relationships need to be maintained.

The scale of data cooperatives

Data cooperatives have the potential to work at scale generating and trading in bulk, high worth data as well as forming around smaller communities of interest, such as around a particular health issue, to draw down or negotiate for a better services.

Creating a critical mass of data subjects that would allow the data cooperative to operate at scale would be challenging. Marcos Menendez from The Good Data sees that for PIMS such as themselves would need to create a minimum data subject base of around 500,000 people to be viable. There is potential for data cooperatives to partner with organisations or charities with a similar ethical outlook to build the data subject base.

It may be easier to form cooperatives around single issues as the community the cooperative seeks to represent will already be in existence. The value of such an organisation might be that it can help create a more informed decision making process with views of the data subject being represented. Within a multi-stakeholder model the service provider might also be part of the data cooperative such as a local authority or other public sector organisation

Making the purpose of the data cooperative understandable is key. Although single issue cooperatives are relatively simple to understand, the representation of data at scale may be challenging. Data cooperatives could act as a platform that builds consent and allowing the representation of personal data across a broader portfolio of interests.

Building trust and consent within the data cooperative

Trust and consent should be the foundations on which PIMS are built and data cooperatives have the potential to create both. Mutuality offers an opportunity – especially with a multi stakeholder model – to represent the interests of all stakeholders from individual data subjects to data users – creating an environment of mutual understanding and trust. The benefits of enhanced trust between the individual data subjects and data users could enable better data and context to be created by data subjects. Through understanding the ways that the data is being used and trusting that the data user understands the needs and concerns of the data subjects, could create a more enlightened and responsive relationship. Even without data users being part of the organisation, the data cooperative would be able to take on the role of trusted representative which in turn could create consent.

Informed consent across all data subjects in a cooperative could be challenging. It would be easy for a data organisation to empower those that already have knowledge and agency to maximise their data, but the data cooperative should have an interest in empowering everyone.

Increasing data literacy amongst members

Raising the level of data awareness amongst cooperative members would create more informed decision making, but this task would need to be delivered in a sympathetic and nuanced way. Ultimately some people may not engage because of service dependency, lack of choice. or a perception that it isn’t relevant or useful to engage.

For a data cooperative to represent its membership and control the flow of data it needs to have legitimacy, know and understand the data assets of the membership, and have the authority to negotiate with those data assets on the members behalf.

Decisions around data sharing and understanding the potential consequences are difficult and complex. As an intermediary the cooperative would need to ensure that individual members were able to give informed consent. Data literacy goes some way to achieving this but also mechanisms need to be created that can allow people to have agency over the way that their data is used.

Creating consent

Can one organisation be representative of the broader range of ethical positions held within a membership structure? For practical reasons the data cooperative might have a high level ethical policy but individuals within the cooperative may make data sharing choices based on their personal ethical standpoint. This could be enabled by proxy or preset data sharing preferences. The alternative could be to have smaller federated or distributed niche organisations that have specific restrictions on data reuse.

There exist many mechanisms for the creation of consent. These by and large create the environment for proxy voting in decision making processes. A mechanism such as Liquid Feedback – popularised by the Pirate Party, where an individual bestows voting rights to a proxy who aligns to their position, with the ‘liquid’ element allowing proxy rights to be revoked at any point. Other mechanisms might follow along the lines of the Platform Preferences initiative developed by W3C, which sought to create privacy policies that could be understood by browsers – ultimately considered too difficult to implement. A potentially easier solution might work on the basis of preset preferences based on trusted individuals or the creation of archetype or persona based preferences that people can select.

Creating a more equitable data relationship

How would the argument for greater individual data rights be made when service providers see that personal data mediated through their products as their intellectual property? Work has been done through the midata initiative and the developments of personal data passports – where individuals grant rights to organisations to use the data for delivery of service. UK Government has supported this initiative, but has backed away from underpinning the programme with changes in legislation. The lack of regulatory enforcement may limit the efficacy of any initiative that seeks to grant individuals’ rights and agency over their data.

At present there is a certain level of cynicism around voluntary codes of practice where power imbalances exist between stakeholders. The lack of legislation might also create a chilling effect on the ability of data cooperatives to gain the trust of their membership due to their inability to totally control the flow of data.

Existing UK data legislation does give data subjects rights to access personal data held by external organisations through Subject Access Requests. A data cooperative could act as a proxy for individual members automating regular Subject Access Requests. This model is being explored by Our Data Mutual in Leeds, UK. There are challenges with using Subject Access Requests at present. Organisations can charge up to £10 for each request and although provision of the data in digital format may be specified, responses usually take the form of reams of paper print outs with responses taking up to 40 days.

It has been mooted by the UK Government that the cost of Subject Access Requests will be reduced – potentially to zero and that organisations will be compelled to supply the data in digital format. This would go a long way to making the process of automated Subject Access Requests viable but in an ideal world data should be pushed rather than pulled.

Data supply

A challenge that all data cooperatives would face would be how they maintain a relationship with their membership so that services based upon, or value that is extracted from the data is not subject to unforeseen supply-side problems. If a data cooperative represented its membership and entered into licensing relationships with data users on behalf of its membership, what would be reasonable for a data user to expect, especially if data subjects had the right to revoke access to data at anytime? With larger scale data cooperatives this may not be too much of a problem as scale has the potential to damp down unforeseen effects. The Good Data proposes to get around these issues by only holding data for a limited amount of time essentially, minimising disruptions in data supply by creating a buffer. It may be necessary for the data cooperative to create terms and conditions for data subjects to minimise sudden supply-side issues.

Smaller data cooperatives, especially ones that are created around single issues may have difficulty in engaging in activity that requires service guarantees. Developing a mechanism for federation, cumulatively creating data at scale might be a potential solution, but creating a federated system of consent may be more difficult to achieve. As suggested previously economic activity might be a low priority for such organisations where the main purpose might be to represent members and create the environment for informed service provision.

The challenge facing federated data cooperatives and how they interact is undefined. It has been noted that building distributed and federated systems is difficult, and that centralised systems persist due to operational efficiencies. The advent of alternative forms of ‘block chain’ transaction could enable distributed organisations to coexist using ‘rules based’ or algorithmic democracy. But alternative transaction systems and currencies often face challenges when they interface with dominant and established forms of currency and value. How data cooperatives could practically use these new mechanisms for exchange needs to be explored.

The data cooperative and open data

Although the much of the discussion in the Berlin and Manchester meetings was based on rights and uses of personal data, data cooperatives do offer an interesting model for organisations that create open data, or those that seek to enhance open data with personal data.

An open data cooperative might be a good model for stakeholders who create and use data for public access. It may be a single class model where data suppliers such as public bodies work together or more interestingly a multi-stakeholder model where public data providers work with organisations that manage personal data – these in themselves could be data cooperatives

In summary data cooperatives;

  1. are owned by their membership and therefore should be more accountable;
  2. have the potential put a halt to the over collection of personal data through representing data subjects and advocating on their behalf;
  3. can create value for their membership;
  4. can form around single issues or scale with many data subjects;
  5. can become representative and be used to create change;
  6. could help their membership to understand how data is used – data literacy;
  7. can liberate personal data on members behalf through Subject Access Requests;
  8. can encourage better data and context to be produced by data subjects;
  9. build trust and consent within the organisation and
  10. can be a blend of open data and personal data organisations

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

Transport Special – ODM May

Transportation holds a lot of interest for many in the open data community. The availability of transport open data and realtime transport open data offers the potential to create diverse, innovative applications and services, as well as a greater understanding of how transportation systems work.

The meeting was an opportunity to get an update from Craig Berry and Dave Busby from TfGM as to the progress they were making in opening up the data within TfGM. Back in 2010 TfGM made a commitment to start making available open data. This began with the release of the ATCO-CIF Timetable data in July 2010.

In January, Dave and Craig outlined what data they were trying to release and some of the technical, organisational and contractual obstacles that needed to be overcome, they were encouraged to join the Open Data Manchester Google Group and use it as a means of finding out what data developers were interested in and in what form. This they did and the update they gave seemed to reflect this.

The presentation is attached. What was apparent from the presentation was that there was a real willingness to involve the ODM community in the process of release and it was hoped that through this engagement, a greater awareness of need and organisational intelligence would develop.

TfGM Presentation

Following on from the TfGM update Nathan Day, Business Development Manager of Rockshore gave a preview of the soon to be released Network Rail realtime data APIs at the moment it is in Beta and Network Rail are only allowing 100 people access. It is due to be launched at the end of June.

The specifications and structure of the data are contained within the developer pack Developer pack for Network Rail data feeds

Although the structure of the data is described there is little context to understand what the data is describing and it will be up to the developer community to create this.

It is hoped that there will be another transport update later in the year.

January meeting with TfGM

January’s Open Data Manchester was a transport special, with Craig Berry and Dave Busby from TfGM giving an update as to the types of data that TfGM hold, and what they are trying to release. Open Data Manchester people may already know of Craig Berry as the Information Manager who has been tasked with identifying and releasing open data. Dave Busby’s brief is for integrated ticketing and real-time information.

TfGM reinforced its position with regard to open data at the meeting. There has been a number of rumours over the past twelve months as to what the organisation was trying to release to DataGM – Greater Manchester’s open data portal . TfGM are currently releasing data with regard to bus schedules, NaPTAN stop locations, fixed and mobile speed camera locations and monthly Road Traffic Collision updates. There had been mooted some realtime data would be released.

Greater Manchester has been crying out for an intelligent integrated ticketing system. To many a lack of such system has made travel by public transport around Greater Manchester more difficult than it should be. To this end TfGM are developing a specification that will go to tender in the 1st half of 2012. The system will initially cover Metrolink and then encompass Greater Manchester buses. The system will use contactless technologies in a similar vein to TfL’s Oyster Card but with the added functionality of being able to use contactless bankcards and NFC phones. It was interesting to note the certainty that NFC will be adopted, by most handset companies within the next year. Paying by Google Wallet was also mentioned as a possibility. The ticketing system will also have fare rules that will calculate the best price for journeys undertaken.

Although getting Integrated ticketing to work with Metrolink would be a relatively easy task and a useful test bed to prove the utility of the system, getting Greater Manchester’s 40+ independent commercial bus operators to adopt the system maybe more challenging and may need a certain amount of political will. Anonymised journey data from the system or personal access to journey history wasn’t discussed in detail, although the later seems to be fairly standard in smart ticketing systems, access to anonymised data could offer huge potential for applications and services that look at gate loading on routes, passenger density etc.

The advent of the oft mooted, realtime data from TfGM looks closer – although there was no specific timescale mentioned. There will be access to the Metrolink Passenger Information Displays data, although how this will manifest itself is uncertain. Developers present at the meeting suggested that JSON would be preferable. The main challenge with accessing real-time Metrolink location data is that the Tram Management System currently being implemented isn’t currently functioning throughout the network. The initial release of data will cover the South Manchester line and Eccles lines.

Although it doesn’t look like there will be any real-time bus data soon, TfGM would like to release the location information of the free Centreline buses that are being operated on TfGM’s behalf. This data will be location data that won’t identify the actual service the bus is running. It was suggested that as there are only three distinct Centreline routes it wouldn’t be that complicated to identify, even where the routes overlap. There is also an Informed Personal Traveller pilot that is being run in Bury by Logica, ACIS and First Bus. It uses a number of technologies including an AVL system that has been fitted to approximately 100 of their buses. The IPT application hasn’t been released yet and there are indications that the system is closed.

TfGM recently submitted a bid to the Local Sustainable Transport Fund and written into it is the provision of open data and the development of an intelligent multi-modal Journey Planner pulling all relevant data that TfGM has at it’s disposal, how developers could access the Journey Planner was discussed and whether it would exclude the provision of other types of journey data.

There is a move to make other data available through the LSTF, these include Car Park updates, real-time disruption data, journey down roads data and feeds off TfGM’s SCOOT adaptive traffic control system. SCOOT controls half of the approximately 2000 traffic control signals in Greater Manchester.

The lack of transparency with regard to bus fare structures within Greater Manchester has been a subject that has come up many times, especially regarding anecdotal evidence that dependant communities are charged more per mile than others having viable transport alternatives. TfGM stated that Greater Manchester is one of the few places where bus travel is generally more expensive than rail. To this end TfGM are interested in developing a project similar to one that Open Data Manchester was developing over a year ago that encouraged travelers to submit the details of their journey and price.

At the close of the discussion TfGM were encouraged to use the Open Data Manchester Google Group as a resource to ask questions and to highlight initiatives and challenges.

Making Open Data Real consultation results published.

The results of the last year’s Making Open Data Real consultation have been published. Open Data Manchester submitted a response as did 246 others.

These responses will be used to define the governments approach to Open Data and will hopefully bring about a meaningful push from both central and local government.

The following Greater Manchester based organisations responded:

  • North West e Government Group
  • Open Data Manchester
  • Rochdale Council
  • Swirrl IT Ltd
  • Trafford Council
  • Transport for Greater Manchester
  • So far play to the above for the above for engaging.

    Summaries of the consultation can be read here:

    Full responses can be downloaded here:

    ODM Response to the Public Data Corporation consultation

    Charging for Public Data Corporation information

    1. How do you think Government should best balance its objectives around increasing access to data and providing more freely available data for re-use year on year within the constraints of affordability? Please provide evidence to support your answer where possible.

    This question is framed incorrectly. For open data to be truly sustainable there has to be a shift away from the notion of affordability and access. Open Data is part of a transformation of how services are delivered within and by government and how government relates to people and business. What we should be moving to is the notion of Government as platform where the data that the government uses for its own purposes is also seamlessly available for reuse.

    2. Are there particular datasets or information that you believe would create particular economic or social benefits if they were available free for use and re-use? Who would these benefit and how? Please provide evidence to support your answer where possible.

    We see that there are a number of core ‘infrastructure’ datasets that have allowed systems to be developed within the UK. The majority being run by trading funds. Consolidating their charging position within the PDC will have a chilling effect not only on the direct creation of applications and services but on an underlying data ecosystem that will create social and economic value. It has impact on future technological developments where applications need to be aware of their relation to core data infrastructure. This is particularly important with the emerging development of the Internet of Things and pervasive technologies.
    Whilst developing the Open Data Cities project in 2009 and DataGM – The Greater Manchester Datastore with Trafford Council it became apparent that local authority and community access to certain data such as Land Registry data was creating problems. Anecdotally it had been suggested that easy and open access to Land Registry data would help combat cross boundary housing benefit fraud and would of eliminated the MPs second home scandal.

    3. What do you think the impacts of the three options would be for you and/or other groups outlined above? Please provide evidence to support your answer where possible.
    The charging options outlined will all have impact on the development of open data services/applications and future technologies where open data is an enabler.
    All three models are flawed in that they are trying to predict and extract value from an emergent field. They fail to take into account what is needed to create a sustainable, innovative and disruptive data ecosystem. Disruptive innovation in emerging fields needs to have a low barrier to entry and the creation of an ecosystem where ideas can be tested, fail and succeed with marginal cost.

    4. A further variation of any of the options could be to encourage PDC and its constituent parts to make better use of the flexibility to develop commercial data products and services outside of their public task. What do you think the impacts of this might be?
    By encouraging public organisations to develop services outside the public task has the potential to distort an emerging market and should be treated with caution. The knowledge that many public organisations hold in regard to their task is unique and could be encouraged as long as the underlying raw data resources are available to all.

    5. Are there any alternative options that might balance Government’s objectives which are not covered here? Please provide details and evidence to support your response where possible.

    5. There needs to be an appraisal of the wider value and impact of releasing public data. This impact should not just be seen as a simple transactional value but a broader impact on the engagement and wellbeing of society.

    Licensing
     
    1. To what extent do you agree that there should be greater consistency, clarity and simplicity in the licensing regime adopted by a PDC?
    It is understood that having multiple licensing regimes can create confusion and hence hinder the development of interpretations, applications and services. The danger of ‘double licensing’ is real especially as products become more complex. The adoption of OGL should be seen as a default position for raw open public data. At the moment within public datastores such as DataGM there are numerous licensing options most with a potential to cause confusion and contaminate downstream data usage. This confusion has also been used as an excuse for not releasing data.

    2. To what extent do you think each of the options set out would address those issues (or any others)? Please provide evidence to support your comments where possible.
    The potential impact of different organisations within the PDC to define their own licenses to suit different uses of data usage presupposes that the data provider has an appreciation of the potential uses of the data. This may work in an environment where products are developed in one specific domain but when innovation is cross cutting the need for standardisation and clarity becomes clear. Whilst the third option of a single PDC licence with adapted schedules of use would seem easiest. The question fails to recognise that raw open public data should be free by default with exemptions being rigorously justified.

    3. What do you think the advantages and disadvantages of each of the options would be? Please provide evidence to support your comments
    Please see above

    4. Will the benefits of changing the models from those in use across Government outweigh the impacts of taking out new or replacement licences?
    Yes, as the current licensing regime is opaque and hinders innovation and innovation drives the economy.

    Oversight

    1. To what extent is the current regulatory environment appropriate to deliver the vision for a PDC?
    You cant have a system of oversight which fails to engage users. It is necessary to have one robust and representative regulatory environment that has real powers to make PDC based organisations compliant. The representation should be a balance of suppliers and users of data.

    2. Are there any additional oversight activities needed to deliver the vision for a PDC and if so what are they?
    Apart from making sure that raw public data is made open and freely available, No

    3. What would be an appropriate timescale for reviewing a PDC or its constituent parts public task(s)?
    Six monthly initially then after the initiative becomes embedded less often

    Making Open Data Real – Response from ODM and Open Data Cities programme.

    27th October 2011

    The benefits of adopting open data for the purposes of transparency and accountability have been well documented, but open data is not just about transparency and accountability. We live in a modern technologised society and we need to give people the tools to navigate through our modern data driven environment, whether it be access to transit data, gritting routes or ‘infrastructural’ data such as mapping, hydrology or weather.

    We strongly argue for an open by default position with exemption being justified due to security or privacy. This is key as it is virtually impossible to predict what the utility of every dataset will be. It is obvious that certain ‘high value’ (Those that are perceived to improve ‘quality of life’ decisions) datasets will be adopted and used relatively quickly, but some will get used seldomly and many not at all – this doesn’t discount their value, as data has to be seen in the broader context of knowledge and future conditions may make certain datasets more relevant.

    It is also important that any body that delivers service on behalf of the public is also required to be open. For example Manchester is straight jacketed by a fragmented public transport system that has 40+ bus operators all supposedly in competition. Crossing the city may take multiple tickets from multiple operators. There is no motivation for operators to release information as to their fare structures although it has long been identified that having a transparent fare structure enables people to budget, plan and use public transport with confidence. At the moment you can only find out a fare by stepping on to the bus or ringing the operator directly. Although some bus operators do see the value of opening up this information, in meetings concern has been raised by certain operators about wholesale release of data allowing other operators to undercut prices – which is the idea of a deregulated system and local councilors being able to see how much they charge – which goes against the idea of delivering public service and being accountable.

    There is a case that Land Property Registry data be made available. Speaking to Local Authority colleagues there is an issue regarding the tackling of housing benefit fraud where claimants might have property in another borough and the potential of combating certain money laundering activities – It might also of effectively tackled the abuse of second home allowances by MPs before it became a major issue.

    We need to encourage a transition to a more intelligent and aware data policy. This cannot be done in one fell swoop but needs to inform procurement, so when IT systems are upgraded the ability to express data openly from a system would be specified. The adoption of common data release schedules is to be encouraged, especially where you have metropolitan counties such as Greater Manchester. Our colleagues at Trafford MBC, who we were in partnership with, in developing DataGM identified this as an important way to get cross authority collaboration on dataset release.

    There is a very important benefit from having common data release schedules. At present it is very difficult for developers and digital businesses to make certain open data based applications beyond proof of concept due to the market for open data applications and services being nascent. Common schedules allow development of products that can quickly find a critical market mass, this in turn validates the demand side argument for data.

    The public sector is logically the biggest user of its own data but data that is closed and siloed is often dumb data. We hear countless examples of dumb data policy: where local authority officials can’t find the data that they require – so creating an environment for ad hoc duplication and standards, in Greater Manchester this is estimated to cost many millions of pounds of lost personnel hours, and where local authorities might be operating multiple – up to 30 in some – GIS systems all with their own licensing agreements and interoperability issues.

    There has to be an adoption of common standards and these have to be non-proprietary, open and extensible. Although there is certain resistance to the adoption of Linked Data, mostly due to people not fully understanding the concept and need, with the explosion of data enabled devices, the need for computers to interpret complex data environments is becoming more important. Government has to be a major player in this space it also has to be intelligent in how it ensures compliance. Open and extensible formats offer a certain amount of future proofing over proprietary formats

    A concern that we hold, especially in light of participating in the EU smart city programme, is that within the UK there doesn’t seem to be much appreciation that open data is an enabler of Smart City and other technologies. Common technological frameworks that allow the development of city-based services across territories are being developed, building larger potential markets for products. What might be unviable in one territory might be viable at scale.
    Future technological developments such as the Internet of Things might be hampered if there is pressure to license and charge for certain ‘infrastructure’ datasets. Certain IoT devices have to be aware of where they are and how they are functioning in relation to public infrastructure and data.

    We strongly feel that we are coming to a point where we see a transition to Government as a platform. This will enable development of services from both within the public sector and outside. Open Data could be seen as evidence of a healthy functioning platform based structure, where the boundaries and interactions between citizen, government and business are porous, diffuse and bidirectional.

    Access to information is key to the re-enfranchisement. Open Data has the potential to create a more equitable environment for participation. Although it would be naive to believe that opening up data will automatically create a data aware citizenry, it only needs a few people who have the skills to mediate information in their communities to raise awareness and participation.

    We believe that for Open Data to become sustainable we need to be able to not only encourage the supply side but that of the demand side for data as well. Where market failure occurs or where there is nascent development of a sector, there is a need to stimulate activity to drive awareness, create services and applications and develop a base layer from which further development can be derived. Innovation challenges and focused development days are two of the things that can help drive this. There needs to be support for initiatives such as Open Data Manchester, Open Data Sheffield, Open Data Brighton and now Open Data Hull. Often, as in the case of Open Data Manchester and the Open Data Cities project from which it was derived, there is no resource support from the public sector and this is unsustainable.

    Julian Tait
    Open Data Manchester/Open Data Cities

    Online Response

    1. Do the definitions of the terms go far enough or too far

    Engaged citizens need to have access to the structure of our cities. This isn’t jut about league tables but one that allows people to move seamlessly through their modern data driven environment

    There needs to be an additional category of open data that focusses on the open data that enables people to navigate through the modern data driven environment, whether it be access to transit data, gritting routes or ‘infrastructural’ data such as mapping, hydrology or weather.

    2. Where a decision is being taken about whether to make a dataset open, what tests should be applied

    Whether the dataset or ‘datastream’ is being produced to enable the delivery of public services or as in the case of transportation data whether the data produced is for the purposes of disseminating information to the public enabling them to access service more efficiently – EG Transport Executive producing RT bus data that will enable people to use mobile devices to access service saving the capital outlay of investing in realtime bus signage.

    3. If the costs to publish or release data are not judged to represent value for money, to what extent extent should the requester be required to pay for public services data and under what circumstances

    The terms for value for money can be vague and encourage abuse. A test should be whether the data holder is creating the data for the delivery of their own service rather than explicitly for the request.

    4. How do we get the right balance in relation to the range of organisations (providers of public services) our policy proposals apply to? What threshold would be appropriate to determine the range of public services in scope and what key criteria should inform this

    All services that are delivered on behalf of the public should be covered. If a public service uses the data for the delivery of its own task then it should be made available

    5. What would be appropriate mechanisms to encourage or ensure publication of data by public service providers?

    We need to encourage a transition to a more intelligent and aware data policy. This can not be done in one fell swoop but needs to inform procurement. So when IT systems are upgraded the ability to express data openly from a system would have to be implemented

    1. How should we establish a stronger presumption in favour of publication than that which currently exists?

    Emphasis needs to be changed to one where exemption from publication is the exception and sufficient rigorous justification is needed

    2. Is providing an independent body, such as the Information Commissioner, with enhanced powers and scope the most effective option for safeguarding a right to access and a right to data?

    Enhancing the powers of the Information Commissioner is crucial in this process. It is also the ICO becomes a key motivator to creating an open by default policy. The ICO would then be able to put pressure on public bodies to standardise the way that they create data ideally bringing about a more intelligent public data environment

    3. Are existing safeguards to protect personal data and privacy measures adequate to regulate the Open Data agenda?

    Protection of personal data and privacy is vitally important and their has to be real teeth regarding organisations both public and private that transgress these rules. There also has to be an understanding that networked technologies will circumvent many safeguards

    4. What might the resource implications of an enhanced right to data be for those bodies within its scope?

    The enhanced right to data could if implemented wrongly be very resource heavy. If the starting position of public bodies are the biggest users of their own data and the present systems in place for shared intelligence and services is fundamentally flawed and there needs to be change. Example one local authority uses 30 separate GIS systems with each departmental head believing that theirs is the best. If you get it right for the public sectors own use the rest is easy.

    5. How will we ensure that Open Data standards are embedded in new ICT contracts

    Open data and open platforms need to be embedded into the procurement process. We need to break the straightjacket of public services being sold into proprietary IT contracts where the public body isn’t able to use their own data beyond the purposes originally specified. There also has to be a more intelligent procurement process where seemingly value for money initial cost is impacted by costly process of upgrading

    1. What is the best way to achieve compliance on high and common standards to allow usability and interoperability?

    There are a number of standards that are open, extensible and interoperable.

    2. Is there a role for government to establish consistent standards for collecting user experience across public service

    Government is the only authority that can establish compliance amongst public bodies.

    3. Should we consider a scheme for accreditation of information intermediaries, and if so how best that might work

    No. As long as there is equal access to data for all the market should be able to create the right mechanism.

    1. How would we ensure that public service providers in their day to day decision-making honour a commitment to Open Data, while respecting privacy and security considerations.

    There needs to be an establishment of a robust data release framework where sensitive data would be identified at an early stage. There also needs to be an honest position with regard to this where data collectors don’t combine data so that it can then be covered by the DPA or their might be

    2. What could personal responsibility at Board-level do to ensure the right to data is being met include? Should the same person be responsible for ensuring that personal data is properly protected and that privacy issues are met?

    Corporate responsibility a board level

    3. Would we need to have a sanctions framework to enforce a right to data?

    Yes, change cant happen without sanction

    4. What other sectors would benefit from having a dedicated Sector Transparency Board

    We think that the duplication of task is unnecessary when you have a common and clear sets of standards

    1. How should public service make use of data inventories? What is the optimal way to develop and operate this?

    Data inventories should that serve the purposes of both internal purposes and external purposes

    2. How should data be prioritised for inclusion in an inventory? How is value to be established

    Ideally there should be identification of a common set of ‘high value’ datasets that will help to embed the validity of open data these will also help to create a first wave of interpretations and applications. An implementation of a common data release plan would then be undertaken.

    3. In what areas would you expect government to collect and publish data routinely?

    All areas

    4. What data is collected ‘unnecessarily’? How should these datasets be identified? Should collection be stopped?

    There is a great deal of duplication of data within the public sector and this needs to be minimised. Careful consideration should be given as to what unnecessarily actually means. If it means that the data isn’t being used.

    5. Should the data that government releases always be of high quality? How do we define quality? To what extent should public service providers ‘polish’ the data they publish, if at all?

    You would expect that data that is collected on the public’s behalf for the delivery of public service should be of high quality and if it isn’t there is something that is wrong with the system. Although it might be necessary to anonymise or redact certain data this should only be undertaken in tightly defined cases.

    1. How should government approach the release of existing data for policy and research purposes: should this be held in a central portal or held on departmental portals?

    Ideally all the data should be held on the same portal so that there is no need to search for it

    2. What factors should inform prioritisation of datasets for publication, at national, local or sector level?

    High value quality of life datasets. Should always be identified. The quick wins

    3. Which is more important: for government to prioritise publishing a broader set of data, or existing data at a more detailed level.

    Data should be released at the source resolution. Additional work to create different resolutions of data should be discouraged

    1. Is there a role for government to stimulate innovation in the use of Open Data? If so, what is the best way to achieve this?

    Definitely. For Open Data to become sustainable we need to be able to not only encourage the supply side but that of the demand side as well. Where market failure occurs or where there is nascent development of a sector then there is a need to stimulate activity to drive awareness, create services and applications and develop a base layer from which further development niacin be derived.