Why we need better data on towns and rural communities

Tuesday 27th November, 18.30 – 20.30
Federation House
Federation Street
Manchester M4 4BF

Register to attend.

“We need better data” is a constant in our work at Open Data Manchester. Nowhere is this more true than with geographical data. We have national and regional data, and relatively good data at the local authority level, but there is a gaping hole in the availability of data at the town level. We still haven’t decided what a town is! This is particularly important given that the last two decades have seen the dominance of cities and city-regions as engines of economic growth. If we are to construct better place-based policy, it makes sense to have much better place-based data.

Which is why we’re bringing together Ian Warren – Centre for Towns, Professor Cathy Parker – Institute of Place Management (MMU) and Tom Forth – Iamactivate and ODI Leeds to hear about why these issues are critically important for everyone and what we need to do about it. During this session we want to look at the state of publicly-available data on local transport, high street retail and arts & culture to understand why better data would equal better policy, and what we can do about it.

Register to attend.

Follow the money – public spending and procurement in Greater Manchester

Follow the money – public spending and procurement in Greater Manchester

Tuesday, Jun 26, 2018, 6:00 PM

The Federation
Federation Street, Federation House M4 2AH , GB

22 Members Attending

The value of public sector procurement within the UK exceeded £301 billion in 2016 and in the City of Manchester £445.6 million was spent with its top 300 suppliers in 2016/17 alone. Greater Manchester is home to over 2.8 million people and with devolution, more control over how money is being spent rests locally. Come and discover where this money…

Check out this Meetup →

Safiya Umoja Noble – Algorithms of Oppression

Tuesday 8th May 18.00 – 20.00
Federation House
Manchester
M4 4BF

Register here

In her recent best-selling book Algorithms of Oppression, Safiya Umoja Noble challenges the idea that search engines like Google offer an equal playing field for all forms of ideas, identities, and activities. Data discrimination is a real social problem. Noble argues that the combination of private interests in promoting certain sites, along with the monopoly status of a relatively small number of Internet search engines, leads to a biased set of search algorithms that privilege whiteness and discriminate against people of colour, specifically women of colour- and contributes to our understanding of how racism is created, maintained, and disseminated in the 21st century.

Safiya Umoja Noble

Dr. Safiya U. Noble is an assistant professor at the University of Southern California (USC) Annenberg School of Communication. She is the recipient of a Hellman Fellowship and the UCLA Early Career Award.

Noble’s academic research focuses on the design of digital media platforms on the internet and their impact on society. Her work is both sociological and interdisciplinary, marking the ways that digital media impacts and intersects with issues of race, gender, culture, and technology design. Her monograph on racist and sexist algorithmic bias in commercial search engines is entitled Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism (NYU Press). She currently serves as an associate editor for the Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies, and is the co-editor of two books: The Intersectional Internet: Race, Sex, Culture and Class Online, and Emotions, Technology & Design and several articles and book chapters. Safiya holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a B.A. in Sociology from California State University, Fresno with an emphasis on African American/Ethnic Studies. She is a partner in Stratelligence, a firm that specializes in research on information and data science challenges, and is a co-founder of the Information Ethics & Equity Institute, which provides training for organizations committed to transforming their information management practices toward more just, and equitable outcomes.

Supported by MMU and The Federation in partnership with The Omidyar Network and Co-op Foundation

Deprivation vs political control

View full image here

The Indices of Deprivation is a hugely useful collection of datasets in England. Commissioned by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, and developed by OCSI, the indices allow us to understand relative deprivation of neighbourhoods across the country. The indices are used by many different organisation to support decision-making, from determination of funding for schools, to charitable grant-giving. Some even call it the billion pound dataset.

In the context of these indices, deprivation is a measure representing a range of factors, from quality housing, to air quality, educational attainment to crime. The indices tend to be published every 4 years or so, the last in England was 2015. Similar indices are also published for Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

England is split into 32,844 geographical units, each of which has a population of around 1,500 people. These are called lower super output areas (LSOAs). Each of these LSOAs is scored according to a range of factors, and then each LSOA is ranked according to all the others (ie 1 is the most deprived, 32,844 is the least deprived).

At Open Data Manchester, we believe that it is important that everyone is aware that this dataset exists, and that they have the opportunity to understand it and use it. Because of this, we are embarking on a series of events which will look at the indices of deprivation in detail, to help people understand what the data says about the area that they live in, and how they might be able to use that data to challenge local decision-making, to support their own business development, help with applications for grant-funding, etc.

While there will be events, workshops and training to come, we wanted to make something that visualised the dataset, to help kickstart the conversations. So we came up with this poster, that we’re calling a lava lamp plot.

To interpret the charts, local authorities are arranged according to the rank of average ranks of LSOAs in that area. For this measure, Manchester is the most deprived local authority, and Hart in Hampshire is the least deprived.The shape of each chart is derived from the number of LSOAs in each area that fall into each vigintile (quantiles of 5% – a more granular version of a decile). This distribution curve is smoothed, mirrored, and filled in according to the political party in control of the local authority council. The shape of the curve shows the distribution of LSOAs by deprivation – the fatter the bottom, the more deprived LSOAs there are; the fatter the head, the fewer deprived areas there are.

We’ll do a couple more posts over the coming weeks that look at the technical details for how we made the poster. We got the deprivation data from OpenDataCommunities, and the political control data from the Local Government Information Unit. The tools that we used to manipulate the data were R, RStudio, ggplot, and Adobe Illustrator. Code is available at this GitHub repo.

We are producing an edition of A2 Fine Art prints printed on heavyweight paper suitable for framing for £30 inc VAT. If you would like one of these please get in touch at julian[a]opendatamanchester[.]org[.]uk with the subject line Fine Art Prints. The A2 image can also be downloaded here

So you think you know your country – who owns the land?

Tuesday 27th March 18.30 – 20.30
Federation
Federation Street, Manchester M4 4BF

Register on Meetup here

In the second event of our “So you think you know your country” series we look at land and property ownership, public space and rights of way with Guy Shrubsole and Morag Rose.

Our towns and cities often have a complex patchwork of rights and ownership associated with them. Rights of way are often undefined, public space is contested and ownership of land hidden behind secretive shell companies and investment vehicles. The release of data from the Land Registry last year cast light on patterns of ownership across England. This data has been mapped and explored by Anna Powell-Smith and Guy Shrubsole – Who owns England? https://whoownsengland.org/2017/11/14/the-companies-corporate-bodies-who-own-a-third-of-england-wales/

Within this complex interplay of rights, ownership and access exists the experience of the city — for the people are the city¹ — and it is through the human stories and experience that the city comes to life. The LRM (Loiterers Resistance Movement) http://www.thelrm.org/index is a Manchester based collective of artists, activists and urban wanderers interested in psychogeography, public space and the hidden stories of the city. LRM founder Morag Rose recently completed her thesis on women’s experiences of walking in Manchester.

¹ Coriolanus Act III Scene I – William Shakespeare http://www.bartleby.com/70/3631.html#235

Open Data Manchester secures funding to develop its work

Open Data Manchester has secured investment from Omidyar Network to develop its programme of advocacy, training and events through 2018.

In November 2017, Open Data Manchester became a Community Interest Company, setting in stone its core mission to promote a fairer and more equitable society through the development of intelligent and responsible data practice in Greater Manchester, nationally and internationally. This has allowed it to develop a more coherent and ambitious programme, and the ability to secure funding for its work. At present it is developing a framework for the consent and sharing of sensor data through its Knowable Building Framework project funded through the Open Data Institute.

Linda Humphries, a member of the Open Data Manchester CIC board said: “Being part of the Open Data Manchester community for over 5 years, I’ve seen the opportunities it has opened up, connecting people who then work together towards a common aim. This funding from the Omidyar Network will ensure that we can go on making these connections, growing skills and sharing insight, so that people in the community can use data or build tools and services that encourage citizens to better understand and influence their villages, towns and cities.”

The investment from Omidyar Network will enable Open Data Manchester to employ staff and develop its programme from its base within The Federation, Manchester.

Omidyar Network has traditionally supported projects citizen engagement and governance projects in Central and Eastern Europe. As well as Open Data Manchester it is supplying grants to:
The Federation, a co-working space and community of digital innovators in Manchester, in collaboration with the Co-op Foundation.
Campaign Bootcamp, a nation-wide initiative to empower early-stage activists by providing them with the skills, confidence and resilience to run effective campaigns.
The Bristol Cable, a citywide media co-operative focused on investigative journalism.

Established in 2010 to promote and support the use of open data for the benefit of everyone, Open Data Manchester has promoted and run regular events and programmes. In 2010 Open Data Manchester became the first organisation to secure the release of public transit schedules as open data in the UK and then went on to develop a number of programmes over the years that looked critically at how data was being used. From sector specific events around transportation and health, to programmes looking at data and democracy.

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.

Echo Chambers and ‘Post-fact’ Politics – developing ideas

Half day workshop to build tools for a ‘post-fact’ world

Apparently 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. We are worried that the role of evidence in politics is slipping- and we want to do something about it.

A preliminary workshop was held in November attracting a broad range of people from far and wide. Together a list of initiatives was created responding to these challenges. Click this link to read the list of initiatives and add your own thoughts.

Now we are running a follow-on event to allow people to develop these ideas. If you’re an activist, policy wonk, artist, or simply someone interested in this topic we’d love for you to join us. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t make the first event as we will get you up to speed with a chance to add new ideas on the day.

For more information regarding the Echo Chambers and ‘Post-fact’ Politics workshops go to www.postfactpolitics.com

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

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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

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