Buildings, internet of things and open data – Can we create consent?

Thursday 25th January 15.00 – 17.00
Federation Street
Manchester M4 4BF

Register here

Sensors and the Internet of Things have the ability to transform the way we manage infrastructure. Open Data Manchester in partnership with Sensorstream Ltd and Things Manchester in collaboration with Rennes Metropole is exploring how data from sensors can be collected, analysed and released as open data.

This workshop should interest building owners and managers, city officials, IoT technologists, open data activists, data governance and privacy specialists and anyone interested in how data derived from sensors can be shared.

Areas of discussion:

  • Overview of technologies being used for monitoring buildings – using as an example a pilot LoRaWAN sensor network being implemented in Manchester and programmes taking place in Rennes.
  • Can the sharing of sensor data help save money and make our cities more efficient and environmentally sustainable?
  • What are the risks of sharing and how can they be mitigated against?
  • How can data be licensed as open data?
  • Can we create a consent framework to allow data to be released?

The project

The Knowable Building Framework is developing an open source internet of things consent framework for monitoring the performance of older commercial buildings in a non-invasive way using discrete low power sensors, and if appropriate publishing the data from these sensors as open data. Unlike modern stock, older buildings often fall behind as far as the utilisation of new technology is concerned. Many landlords undertake a certain amount of retrofitting such as zonal heating or movement detection systems but these tend to be ad hoc and unconnected, with no ability to monitor how effectively these systems are working either singly or together. The internet of things and the analysis of data derived from sensors can give landlords, building management and tenants insight into the performance of buildings, enabling adaptations that can be economically and environmentally beneficial, whilst also creating opportunities for behaviour change within those buildings. The sharing of performance data as open data can also have benefits for mapping energy usage and demand within cities as well as creating a debate about responsible energy consumption.


So you think you know your country? Data, democracy and demographics

Tuesday 30th January
18.30 – 20.30
Federation Street
M4 4BF

Sign up here
So you think you know your country? is a series of events challenging some of the assumptions that we hold about the UK, the communities in which we live and how data can help create better awareness, understanding and change.

The first event – Data, democracy and demographics – takes a look at emerging trends and patterns within the UK from metropolitan centres to towns and rural communities, how people perceive economic differences and how these shifts are affecting the political landscape of our country.

To help explore this changing landscape we’ll be joined by Jane Green – Professor of Political Science at Manchester University and Ian Warren founder of Election Data and the Centre for Towns.

There will be presentations followed by an opportunity for lots of discussion.

Following events in the series will be – Who owns the land? and A question of money. Join our mailing list at to get advance notification of these and other events and training we’ll be running in the new year.

Knowable Building Framework

Helping building owners save energy, money and the environment through data

En français

The Knowable Building Framework is a UK – France collaboration project funded by the Open Data Institute that seeks to strengthen commercial opportunities and tackle societal challenges through data. It is a collaboration between Open Data Manchester, Rennes Metropole, Sensorstream and Things Manchester.

The Knowable Building Framework will develop an internet of things consent framework for monitoring the performance of older commercial buildings in a non-invasive way using discrete low power sensors, and if appropriate publishing the data from these sensors as open data. Unlike modern stock, older buildings often fall behind as far as the utilisation of new technology is concerned. Many landlords undertake a certain amount of retrofitting such as zonal heating or movement detection systems but these tend to be ad hoc and unconnected, with no ability to monitor how effectively these systems are working either singly or together. The internet of things and the analysis of data derived from sensors can give landlords, building management and tenants insight into the performance of buildings, enabling adaptations that can be economically and environmentally beneficial, whilst also creating opportunities for behaviour change within those buildings.

The project will utilise the Things Network that covers a large proportion of Greater Manchester and communities across the North with free and open Internet of Things connectivity and will allow the project team to design and connect sensors and analytics platforms seamlessly to the internet. The power of the project will come from the ability to share an appropriate amount of data across portfolios of buildings and also to the wider community as open data. Enabling insight to be gathered across the city.

The sensors

Designed and provided by Sensorstream, the sensors will have the capability to measure temperature, light, humidity and occupancy as well as a variety of other relevant conditions. The sensors are discrete measuring approximately 90mm x 130mm, lightweight and powered by a 3V AA batteries that can, depending on setup, operate over many years.

The network

The sensors connect to Manchester’s public Long Range Wide Area Network managed by Things Manchester. This commons-based network provides the capability for communities throughout Greater Manchester to connect internet of things enabled devices for free.

The analysis

Data from the sensors is aggregated into a dashboard interface that shows the operating characteristics over time, enabling the planning of control measures or behavioural change initiatives.

The Framework

The main focus of the project is the development of a framework that will help building owners and operators understand the data that buildings can produce and create a consent mechanism so that data can be shared and released as open data. There are many reasons why the release of this data may be contentious and the Knowable Building Framework seeks to work with building owners to identify and understand these reasons, the risks and the mitigations.

The How

Over the next two months the pilot sensor environment will be installed in Federation and will be used as the basis of the framework. Open Data Manchester will also be running a series of workshops in Rennes and Manchester with building owners, technologists and city officials to try and understand the challenges and utility of sharing building performance data.

The framework will be designed as an open source tool that can then be used to develop similar consent mechanisms for sensor data in other scenarios.

For more information contact Julian Tait julian[at]opendatamanchester[.]org[.]uk

Knowable Building Framework

Aider les Propriétaires de bâtiments à faire des économies d’argent, d’énergie et à préserver l’environnement.

The Knowable Building Framework est un projet de collaboration entre la France et UK financé par l’Open Data Institute qui vise à renforcer les opportunités commerciales et à relever les défis sociétaux à travers l’utilisation des données. C’est une collaboration entre Open Data Manchester, La métropole de Rennes, Sensorstream et Things Manchester.

The Knowable Building Framework développera un modèle de consentement pour l’internet des objets afin de surveiller la performance des bâtiments commerciaux anciens dans une logique non-intrusive, en utilisant des capteurs discrets de faible puissance et dans la mesure du possible, en diffusant les données de ces capteurs comme données publiques.

Contrairement aux bâtiments modernes, les bâtiments anciens sont souvent en retard dans l’utilisation des nouvelles technologies. De nombreux propriétaires procèdent à certaines rénovations notamment sur les zones de chauffage ou les systèmes de détection par mouvement, mais ceux-ci ont tendance à rester ponctuels et non connectés, sans la possibilité de contrôler l’efficacité de ces systèmes seuls ou ensemble.

L’internet des Objets et l’analyse des données issues des capteurs peuvent donner aux propriétaires, aux exploitants et aux locataires un aperçu des performances des bâtiments permettant ainsi de faire des ajustements qui seront bénéfiques tant d’un point de vue économique qu ‘écologique, tout en créant des opportunités de changement de comportement dans ces bâtiments.

Le projet utilisera Things Network qui couvrira une grande partie du Grand Manchester et des communautés du Nord, avec une connectivité internet gratuite et ouverte qui permettra à l’équipe projet, de concevoir et de connecter les capteurs et les plateformes analytiques à internet.

La puissance du projet viendra de la capacité à partager la quantité appropriée de données, à travers les portefeuilles de bâtiment, à une communauté plus large en tant que données ouvertes. Permettre que des idées puissent être recueillies à travers la ville.

Les capteurs

Désigné et fourni par Sensorstream, les capteurs auront la possibilité de mesurer la température, la lumière, l’humidité et l’occupation de l’espace ainsi que divers autres éléments pertinents. Les capteurs sont discrets, mesurant à peu près 90mm x 130mm, légers et alimentés par une pile AA 1,5 V qui, selon la configuration, peut fonctionner plusieurs années.

Le Réseau

Les capteurs se connectent au réseau public étendu de Manchester géré par Things Manchester. Ce réseau commun permet aux communautés à travers le Grand Machester de connecter gratuitement des appareils compatibles à internet.


Les données des capteurs sont agrégés dans l’interface d’un tableau de bord qui montre les caractéristiques de fonctionnement dans le temps, permettant la planification de mesures de contrôle ou des initiatives de changement de comportement.

Le Modèle

Le but principal du projet est de développer un modèle qui aidera les propriétaires de bâtiment et les exploitants à comprendre les données que les bâtiments peuvent produire et de créer un mécanisme de consentement afin que les données puissent être diffusées et partagées en tant que données ouvertes.

Il y a plusieurs raisons pour lesquelles la diffusion de données est controversée et le Knowable Building Framework cherche à travailler avec les propriétaires de bâtiments pour identifier et comprendre ces raisons, les risques et les assouplissements qui pourraient exister.

Comment ?

Au cours des deux prochains mois, l’environnement du pilote capteur sera installé dans le bâtiment “Fédération”  et sera utilisé comme un modèle de base. Open Data Manchester réalisera une série d’ateliers à Rennes et à Manchester avec les propriétaires de bâtiments, des techniciens et des responsables de la Métropole pour tenter de comprendre les défis et l’utilité de partager les données de performance des bâtiments.

Le modèle sera désigné comme un outil open source qui, par la suite, puisse être utilisé pour développer des mécanismes similaires de consentement pour les données issues de capteurs dans d’autres scénarios.

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 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.


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

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

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
Open Data Hackathon (Defined objectives could be a ++)
Support and Open Data Manchester Data Dive

Fare’s Fair – Why we need open fares data for public transport

Being able to understand how much your journey is going to cost is essential for encouraging mobility by public transport in our modern age. Not knowing how much a journey is going to cost before you make it, hinders forward planning and creates a barrier to use. How many people have stepped on to a bus only to find that the journey was more expensive than they first thought? Or that the fare charged yesterday was different than the fare you got charged today?

To this end transport campaigners have been vocal in their efforts to get public transport agencies and operators of public bus services to release fares data, so that people can make intelligent choices about the way that they get around. Transport Hack organised by the fantastic people at ODILeeds is one such example of this happening. Open Data Manchester was itself involved with opening up the bus fares data for all of Greater Manchester in 2010, only for TfGM to discontinue.

Yesterday we learn’t that TfGM had knocked back an FOI request for Manchester Metrolink fares data, citing issues of Commercial Interest.

We think this is wrong on a number of points.

  • Manchester Metrolink is the only tram operator in Greater Manchester – not counting the fantastic tramway at Heaton Park, which we don’t think is a competitor
  • The data is already in the public domain – therefore it wouldn’t take that much effort to aggregate it or get a picture of the fares structure
  • It is in the public interest to get as many people to understand the cost of mobility in Greater Manchester
  • Closed systems hinder the development of seamless ticketing and multi-modal travel by putting opaque commercial interests in front of public service delivery

To this end Open Data Manchester set about compiling the fares data for the Metrolink network. It did’t take that long – about a day – and we used programmatic as well as manual methods. The data is in tabular Excel form as well as a parsed text document. It is provided as is and we can’t be liable for any mistakes or inconsistencies – although we have checked it as much as we can.  Please let us know if you find any errors or create something interesting.

The data can be found here

Minor edits – addition of a link and additional bullet point were made at 14.00, 20.10.17

An edit was made regarding licensing 18.11.17

OpenCorporates – Exploring the corporate world through data

Evening workshop looking at the data and tools for exploring the global corporate world.

18.30 – 21.00 Tuesday 27th June 2017
Federation House
Federation Street
Register Here

If there is one thing that Panama Papers proved, it is that shell companies and opaque jurisdictions allow money and assets to be kept secret, making it difficult for investigators to detect corruption, money laundering and organized crime.

In 2010 OpenCorporates was founded as an effort to identify where companies were based and how they linked across the world. It is now the largest open database of companies and company data, with in excess of 100 million companies in a similarly large number of jurisdictions. Their primary goal is to make information on companies more usable and more widely available for the public benefit, particularly to tackle the use of companies for criminal or anti-social purposes, for example corruption, money laundering and organised crime.

This is a workshop that will enable people and organisations to harness the power of this huge pool of data. Whether you are an activist, organisation or just plain interested, this workshop will help give you the tools to explore the complex, connected world of corporate organisations.


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


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 Infrastructure Night – Open Data and Open IoT

Monday February 1st, 6.30 – 8.30pm
The Manchester Escalator
231 Deansgate
M3 4EN

Sign up here

If you believe some of the tech press 2016 is the year that the Internet of Things will take over – billions of devices will become connected and our lives will be free from the drudgery of turning things on and off again. Beyond the hype IoT is connected sensors, actuators and machines that can be communicate over a data infrastructure. Like the internet, the data infrastructure is a critical component which is generally owned and operated by large telecommunication providers. Things Manchester is part of The Things Network founded in Amsterdam and aims to create a crowdsourced, open and free IoT data infrastructure for Greater Manchester and beyond.

Things Manchester will introduce the project and how you can get involved.

The last few months have seen unprecedented rainfall across the north of the UK. Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cumbria bore the brunt of the flooding with bridges swept away, town centres flooded and buildings inundated. ODI Leeds is running a Flood Hack event that will encourage the development of new ideas around flood warnings and prevention. Having access to open data and an open IoT infrastructure is key to this development. The team who are developing Flood Hack will introduce the event and what can be expected and how you can participate