Open Data Manchester – September Edition

Open Environmental Data Special.

Tuesday 24th September 2013

Madlab 36-40 Edge Street Manchester M4 1HN

Sign up here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/event/8260221545

There has been a lot of emphasis in the open data movement on access to data that shines a light on the workings of government or allows the creation of mobility applications. Data that gives us insight into the environment in which we live, work and play tends to be little used yet offers huge potential in enabling people to understand and act on local environmental issues.

The Freedom of Information Act giving people the right to data that public bodies hold is well known but there is little understanding of legislation that gives people the right to access environmental data. The Environmental Information Regulations give people the power to ask for data on a host of environmental issues, yet unlike their FOIA cousins are under-utilised. Is it that EIR is too complex and little understood or is it that the data that is held is incomplete or difficult to use?

In mitigation of this there is a growing army of people who are taking matters into their own hands be exploring, mapping and creating environmental data that is more relevant to their communities. Low cost ‘easy to use’ sensors can be deployed , networked, fitted to smart phones and the data aggregated to provide a more comprehensive picture of our environment.

This months Open Data Manchester is a chance to look at some of the initiatives that have been taking place recently. It will be an opportunity to discuss why we need access to environmental data and how people can come together to map their own communities.

Growing Data

**The following guest post is by Farida Vis from the Everyday Growing Cultures research project. The project looks at the potentially transformative effect of bringing together the food growing and open data communities.**

This post also originally appeared on the OKFN Blog http://blog.okfn.org/2013/07/18/the-transformative-potential-of-gardening-with-data/

EGC picture_OKFN blog post

Those supporting the government’s open data agenda highlight the business case for open data, an economic argument about its moneysaving potential, along with the suggestion that it will lead to better-informed citizens. All of these claims require close and critical examination. If money is saved, who benefits and makes money from these innovations? How exactly do citizens know about and become better informed through open data? Why should they care? Some within the wide and heterogeneous open data ‘movement’ subsequently point to the importance of ‘really useful’ data, suggesting citizens might care and become better informed if open data was seen as useful in their daily lives.

Our project, (http://everydaygrowingcultures.org/), addresses these issues by focusing on two distinct yet connected communities: allotment, growing communities (plot holders; allotment societies; those waiting for plots; allotment governing bodies) and the open data community (open data activists; developers; local government; data journalists). Allotment and open data communities may initially seem unconnected, but they share many concerns: around ideas of knowledge sharing, exchange, collaboration, ‘the commons’, and access to shared resources (digital and land).

We believe there is a potentially transformative value in connecting these two currently disparate communities. Bringing them together could build stronger, more active communities, benefit local economies and improve environmental sustainability and food security. We focus on the current allotment waiting list crisis and huge interest in growing your own, to investigate the value that could be brought into people’s lives through opening up local government data on allotments. Moreover, we are interested in facilitating citizen-led solutions to this crisis by identifying and mapping vacant land for the purpose of growing food.

Our research is based on the UK cities of Sheffield and Manchester, which both have thriving open data and food growing communities. Keeping in mind the different aspects of the open data agenda – the economic dimension, its claimed contribution to a better informed citizenry – along with the methods through which open data is practiced, we are using the allotment case and increased interest in food growing to ask:

* What does digital engagement and transformation look like within these communities?

* How can these communities further the national open data agenda so that it benefits citizens?

* How can a more widely adopted and enacted open data strategy benefit local economies?

* If unsuccessful in these aspects, what might open data’s unintended consequences look like?

* How can we think of forms of resistance, mobilisation of local histories and heritage identities?

* How can we rethink received ideas of participation and enacting citizenship in light of these?

Since mid-February 2013, in partnership with Open Data Manchester, The Kindling Trust and Grow Sheffield, we have run a number of events with growing communities in Manchester and Sheffield, to identify potential food growing spaces. We have talked to local councils about taking some of our ideas forward and how this might take place. We have requested allotment data through the Freedom of Information Act and looked at how council websites provide information to potential allotment plot holders. We are in the process of surveying people on waiting lists and have made a documentary film highlighting these important issues.

Join the Everyday Growing Cultures team in Sheffield on 23 July to discuss and explore these issues with key partners and stakeholders, including leading UK allotment expert Professor David Crouch. As part of the event, the award winning feature documentary, Grown in Detroit, will be screened. Before that our own project documentary film will be shown and the filmmakers (Erinma Ochu and Caroline Ward) will be there to answer your questions!

The event is free to attend, but registration is required. Please register here: (http://everydaygrowingculturespublicevent.eventbrite.co.uk/). Please check the website for further details.

We will also present work from the project at these upcoming events: (http://smarttowns.co.uk/) event in Halifax in September.

(http://www.digthecity.co.uk/) film screening at Dig the City festival in Manchester (3-11 August).

Open Data Manchester – By Jove it’s June.

6.30pm – 8.30pm Tuesday 25th June 2013
MadLab – 36 – 40 Edge Street Manchester M4 1HN

Manchester’s premiere open data meetup will be taking place once more this month.

Open Data Manchester has been meeting regularly since the beginning of 2010 and is a free and open forum for discussion and practice around open data.

It is a chance to catch up on all stuff ‘open data’ that is taking place both locally and beyond. There are a number of initiatives around and it would be good to catch hold of them.

If you have any projects or ideas you want to discuss or have an open data itch that you need to scratch, feel free to bring them along.

 

Open Data Manchester – May Edition

Tuesday 28th May

6.30 -8.30pm

MadLab, 36 – 40 Edge Street, Manchester M4 1HN

Sign up on Eventbrite here

As well as the usual opportunity to show people what we’ve all been up to, this month is a chance to catch up with other open data developments within Greater Manchester.

DataGM is due to be relaunched after a long development hiatus. When launched it will be an instance of the latest CKAN. One of the Trafford open data team will be here to talk it through and how you can get involved in the new fresh DataGM. For those that want a sneak preview you can find it here. NB this only has a few test datasets on it: http://datagm2.ckanhosted.com/

For the classic DataGM experience you can find it here: http://www.datagm.org.uk

We will get an update from Farida Vis and Steven Flower as to the first outings of the mapping for food growing walks that aim to uncover unused green space that could be used for growing food. This month saw two expeditions in Trafford. Further information can be found on the  Everyday Growing Cultures project website http://everydaygrowingcultures.org/

The Shakespeare Review was released last week https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/198752/13-744-shakespeare-review-of-public-sector-information.pdf
The review explores the growth opportunities of, and how to widen access to, the wealth of information held by the public sector. We will look at the recommendations that it makes to Government

For those that were around for the Innovation Challenge in March you will be aware of the development of CitySDK API. The logic behind it’s development is that it uses Open Street Map as a base layer in which other data is mapped over it. As it is being implemented by a number of European Cities it should theoretically make it easier to port applications across them thus increasing market. We should have the final specification.

There will also be an update on funding out there for your projects open data and otherwise.

If you have anything that you want to add just let us know, ODM is open and for everyone.

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Routes to the Future: An Innovation Challenge

FutureEverything and Transport for Greater Manchester present the Routes to the future: An innovation challenge, an intensive 48 hour competition aimed at coders and creative software developers to build new, useful applications from TfGM’s data that will improve the public transport experience for people of Greater Manchester. There are cash and development prizes available for the best ideas.

Being held as part of the FutureEverything Summit of Ideas and Digital Invention, the weekend will be held at Four Piccadilly Place and will begin straight after the main FutureEverything conference ends with a launch event from 6pm – 7.30pm on Friday 22 March. The innovation challenge itself will begin at 8am on Saturday 23 March.
Routes to the future is set to be an intense, productive and exciting collaboration between the brightest minds in software development and data processing. Entries from both teams and individuals are welcome. The cash prize and development fund available is over £16,000.

Challenge Categories are:
Best use of real-time data
Best use of multiple datasets
Best application created on the CitySDK API
Most Innovative use of data
Best U21 application
Developers Prize

Amongst the datasets TfGM will make available will be GTFS schedules and realtime Centreline positional information as well as the data already available through the DataGM – The Greater Manchester Datastore.

Click here to sign up

Routes to the Future: An Innovation Challenge is a partnership between TfGM and FutureEverything supported by Open Data Institute, Tech Hub Manchester and Manchester University

The Manchester Hackathon not bad for No.1

For those of you who missed it, the first Manchester Hackathon occurred last weekend. Manchester City Council, FutureEverything and ourselves came together to create 24 hours of coding deliciousness.

The hackathon was part of Manchester City Council’s commitment to open data and was the motivation for the release of datasets, APIs and documentation for the event. Data can be found here on the MDDA website The variety of data available ranges from trees which is all the more pertinent as Ash Dieback spreads through the country, Contact Centre data and Contaminated Land which is a hugely contentious dataset. A lot of the data released was in consultation with the Open Data Manchester community.

The format of the Hackathon created an intense atmosphere in MadLab as 45 coders and designers strove to create something demonstrable by the 5pm deadline. In the end 16 teams presented their creations in two minute quick fire presentations.

The winners were:

Best Under 21’s Creation – £600 – Bus Tracker by 19 year old MMU student Bilawal Hameed, the Bus Tracker app will let you find the nearest bus stop to you, direct you to it and give you the times and destinations of the next bus due.

Best Visualisation and Developers Prize (voted for by everyone taking part in the Hackathon)- £600 for each prize, was won John Rees for his app called Sat Lav. If you are caught short in the City, you just open the app and it will direct to nearest public toilet including those in shops and bars which allow the public to use.

Best Locative Application, the £600 prize was won by Matt Schofield for his Taxi Rank Finder app. Matt’s app shows the nearest taxi rank to you and directs you to it. It also shows if it is a marshalled rank and its opening times.

Best Solution for an Identified Problem (£600 prize) was won by Slawomir Wdowka and Imran Younis for their Manchester Voice which would allow the public to submit ideas to the council, then checks records to see if other people have made the same suggestion. When an idea is developed it would allow the public to vote on it.

The grand prize of £1,000 + £3,600 in development funding was won by Data Crossfader, created by James Rutherford and Ashley Herriott, a visualisation tool that plots information on a map of Manchester to allow people to compare important sets of data. For example, using postcode details it shows the locations of road traffic incidents on a map, and then adds where speed cameras are, so if they is a particular area where accidents happen which are not covered by a camera, it easily shows that on a map.

By the end of the event a number of developers had been approached to develop their ideas further and we’ll try and keep track of where that gets to.

For a much more in depth post by James Rutherford click here

T shirts – You Decide

If you don’t know that the Open Data Manchester has been involved in the development of the Manchester Hackathon, where have you been? There will be over sixty coders, creatives, journalists and activists all getting down and dirty with Manchester’s open data. To mark the occasion Open Data Manchester is going to have some T-Shirts made. Would you like one?

Below are some designs, help us choose by entering 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 in the reply box at the bottom of the page.

 

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October 2012 Meetup: Data Strategy Special

Event details: Tuesday 30th Oct at 6:30 at MadLab.

This month we’ll be hearing from Bill Roberts.

Bill (from local company, Swirrl) is a member of two recently set up government groups related to open data: the Data Strategy Board and the UK Government Linked Data Working Group. He will explain what these organisations are meant to do and how they hope to improve the UK open data landscape – and how OpenDataManchester members and others can make their opinions and requests heard.

There will also be an announcement about the MCC Hackathon, and there will be the usual opportunity for general news and discussion, and the chance for people to show off what they’re working on.

We’ll start at 6:30 in MadLab, then we’ll probably head to Common-Bar across the street afterwards for a drink.

More details and sign-up …or just turn up! 🙂

Open Data and the Personalisation of Experience

Earlier in July at SMC_MCR, a monthly digital and social technology meet up in Manchester UK,  BBC R&D demonstrated a new approach to personalised entertainment called Perceptive Media. It is something that BBC producer Ian Forrester had been talking about for some time, being revealed at SMC_MCR in February. At that point it was hard to understand what the concept entailed. It was explained as a way of delivering media that was tailored to individual preference and environment but little else.

 

On their return in July the team showcased a short radio play demonstrating some of the concepts of Perceptive Media. The play can be found here http://futurebroadcasts.com/ At first listening the play seems to follow the traditional radio play form, but within the play there are certain personalisations that are based upon the location of the listener. After a couple of listenings it is quite obvious where the personalisations exist. As Ian Forrester stated in the Q&A, it was a fairly basic demonstration of the technology pointing to the challenges of narrative personalisation and the ability to create these personalisations ‘on the fly’, in the browser. Even with such a short and somewhat basic demonstration of Perceptive Media it is easy to see how it could develop into a more complex form cutting across platforms.

 

The personalisation aspect of Perceptive Media comes from the creation of a narrative framework that allows certain variables to be inserted, with these variables influenced from the data that the Perceptive Media storyteller has access to. In the case of ‘Breaking Out’ – the play in the demonstration – the data accessed was local weather, listings and local news. As more data is made available it is easy to see how it could be integrated into a Perceptive Media framework. The demonstration offers a glimpse into a new form of story telling based on an individuals location and environment and if coupled with personal data – preference and situation.

 

In 2009 at FutureEverything there was a presentation by Philip Trippenbach, then at the BBC, about the construction of narrative in games especially first person games. He highlighted a game called ‘Six days in Fallujah’ which he writes about here http://trippenbach.com/2009/06/09/six-days-in-fallujah-and-the-dirty-g-word/ What I find of interest is the possible use of the form to be educational, to disseminate news and information in a way that many would be uncomfortable with. What Trippenbach talks about is a personalisation of experience, a certain ‘being there’. The use of real situations to create realistic gaming experience is not new but a concerted attempt to create ultra-realistic gaming through streaming of real-time positional and telemetry data from Formula 1 Grand Prix was attempted in 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7440658.stm Although as the article states it would probably only be of interest to hardcore gamers, it offers fascinating possibilities about could be achieved at this intersection of gaming, personalisation and data.

 

Although not using open data, a great example of this was demonstrated at FutureEverything in 2011. Arcade Fire’s – We Used To Wait scores a personalised film called The Wilderness Downtown by Chris Milk developed in association with Google Labs. It invites the user to enter the address of where they grew up and then the HTML5 based experience literally flies. You can try it here: http://www.thewildernessdowntown.com/

 

Data both open and personal is at the centre of the personalised experience whether it be local weather, what food we like, position of racing cars, location of where we once lived or the environment in which real-life situations were played out. We are starting to see a new world where the way information is delivered to us is adaptive, often in real-time and just for us. It might not be to everyone’s liking but it is happening, just look what Google are doing: http://www.google.com/landing/now/

 

Disclosure: Julian Tait is a co-founder of SMC_MCR and content programmer for FutureEverything

T-Shirts

There was a discussion a while back around Open Data Manchester t-shirts. It was probably after an Open Data Manchester meeting in Common Bar, but in a moment of procrastination I have designed a t-shirt.

It will probably never see the light of day but it would be cool to see if other people can design one too. You never know one day we might get some printed. This is the template T Shirt Blank

It doesn’t matter how bizarre or strange – as long as it isn’t offensive, libellous or irrelevant. Send it to opendatamcr [at] littlestar.tv and I’ll post it up

Julian