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 April Edition

Tuesday 30th April 2012, 6.30 – 8.30pm
Madlab – 36-40 Edge Street, Manchester M4 1HN

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It seems a long while since our last Open Data Manchester although March was packed with open data related stuff in Manchester.

This month we revert to a more traditional format. There will be the usual show and tell with updates about what initiatives are going on in the Greater Manchester open data world and further afield.

TaxHack is a new project based in Manchester, where the techniques and tools of open data will be used to support the tax justice movement. By using the technology and ethos of open data for tax related journalism, we plan to utilise online spaces and hackdays to tackle questions on corruption, tax avoidance and corporate secrecy, and make it accessible to the wider public.

For example, one of the current projects for TaxHack is to identify which companies are receiving large public contracts while at the same time using tax havens, and then correlating the physical location of the companies’ operations to areas affected by public sector cuts.

In the process we hope to pressure centres of power to release more data in the interests of transparency.
http://taxhack.wordpress.com/

Farida Vis will talk about the next iteration of her Allotment Data project http://allotmentdata.org/

Also we will catch up with what happened at the Routes to the Future Innovation Challenge that took place in March.

A report on the Open Data Manchester Special – An Open Data Future will be out soon.

Open Data Manchester Special – An Open Data Future

The next Open Data Manchester is special event tying in with FutureEverything taking place from the 19th – 24th March.

An Open Data Future is an open debate that aims to look under the hood of the open data movement.

Over the past few years open government data has evolved from a niche concern to one that has been embraced by national government, European Commission and other states and organisations around the globe.

It has been advocated that Open Government Data will expose the inner workings of state institutions and thus enable an environment for greater understanding, accountability and efficiency.

The release of open government data has also been seen as an opportunity to add value to national economies through the creation of new services, new intelligence and a more networked economy through the free flow of data.

But ultimately what are the drivers behind this movement, who are the winners and losers and what should a society based upon open practices look like?

Panelists
Jo Bates – Academic at University of Sheffield
http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/is/staff/bates
Tim Davies – Researcher and Activist http://www.timdavies.org.uk/about/
Javier Ruiz – Campaigner for the Open Rights Group
http://www.openrightsgroup.org/people/staff
Tom Slee – Canadian writer and commentator, author http://www.tomslee.net/

Chaired by Yuwei Lin.

This event is free but likely to reach capacity very quickly so registering here is essential

Open Data Manchester – January 2013 edition

6.30pm – 8.30pm Tuesday 29th January 2013
MadLab – 36 – 40 Edge Street Manchester M4 1HN

Open Data Manchester is a meetup for all people who are interested in making data open for the benefit of citizens, businesses and public bodies alike.

The meetings are mix of presentation, conversation and sharing of tips, hacks and data. The event is an open forum and free.

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It’s 2013 and hopefully everyone is rested after the Christmas break. 2013 looks like it is going to be an interesting year as far as open data in Manchester is concerned with a number of initiatives including the FutureEverything Summit of Ideas and Digital Invention – happening in March.

Topics to be covered will include ‘The Business of Open Data’ workshop happening on the 19th and 20th March and more significantly Routes to the Future – Transport Innovation Challenge for Greater Manchester happening 22nd -24th March. Will there at last be a release of realtime data from TfGM? – All will be revealed at the meeting.

If you have anything that you want to discuss, showcase or point out at the meeting – just let us know.

Open Data Manchester – November 2012 Edition

6.30pm – 8.30pm Tuesday 27th November 2012
MadLab – 36 – 40 Edge Street Manchester M4 1HN

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The next Open Data Manchester should be a good one. Hot off the back of the Manchester Hackathon we will be showcasing some of the things developed from some of the participants and having a bit of a debrief. Overall the feedback has been really positive but it would be good to see what could be improved.

As part of the Hackathon there were a number of datasets released by Salford, Trafford and most impressively by Manchester City Council. Some of the data released is a first for a local authority and some of it is quite contentious so worth a look.

Open Data Manchester will be hosting a delegation from Brazil who are on a technical visit to the UK to find out more about the open data, transparency and accountability, and Freedom of Information.

Finally if you are interested in how applicaitons develop during a hackathon, John Rees took a screenshot every 30 seconds whilst building his multi prize winning SATLAV application

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZcUEXJ0MhY]


Open Data Manchester is partially funded under the ICT Policy Support Programme (ICT PSP) as part of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme by the European Community.

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

ODM – September 2012 Edition

6.30pm – 8.30pm, Tuesday 25th September
Venue: MDDA, 117-119 Portland Street, Manchester M1 6ED

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After a brief summer hiatus Open Data Manchester is back and temporarily at a different venue.
The last event saw James Cattell from Digital Birmingham, Andrew MacKenzie from the UK Governments Open Data User Group and Jag Goraya from GIST Foundation in Sheffield talking about how open data initiatives were developing in Birmingham and Sheffield and Birmingham City Council’s adoption of a corporate open data strategy.

Since the last meeting there has been quite a bit of activity mostly around some forthcoming hackdays and support for open data initiatives in Manchester. Last Tuesday we had the launch of Tech Hub Manchester in Carver’s Warehouse on Dale Street, Manchester. This is going to be a new co-working space networked into Tech Hub London and a wider international digital start-up community and we will be having the Tech Hub people coming to talk about the initiative and Start-up Weekend a two day hack event utilising open data.

The City of Manchester is also looking at developing open data as far as part of a new Technology Strategy Board – Future Cities Demonstrator project. This is a large £24 million fund that will help the creation of digital services within the city. Anne Dornan who is working on the project will explain how open data fits into this.

If you are interested in public transport, and a lot of people are, Move*Manchester is an Innovation Challenge that will be running in March 2013. The planning is being finalised, but it will entail a weekend event based around a hackathon that will lead to product development and support. The prize fund and support package to develop products and services will be approximately £35,000 and is part of the CitySDK programme run by FutureEverything and Manchester City Council with the support of Open Data Manchester. More details to follow.

Also we will be looking at the latest data releases on DataGM, TfGM, cool developments and anything else people want to show

Open Data Manchester March meeting

March’s meeting was an opportunity to help shape Manchester City Council’s forthcoming open data Hackathon. Stuart Baldwin – an ODM regular – spoke about Manchester’s plans for an event in October to coincide with the Manchester Science Festival.

The driver behind this is the recently announced Manchester Digital Strategy and a recent trip that Chief Executive of MCC, Sir Howard Bernstein made to New York. Whilst a guest of Mayor Bloomberg, Sir Howard was apparently impressed with what New York was doing with their open data initiatives such as 311 and App Challenges.

Open Data Manchester and MDDA advised MCC, that for a Hackathon to work it needed to work with the developer community to make the event relevant and developer friendly.

The conversation was mainly focussed on the types of data that developers wanted releasing and there is a list from Duncun Hull @dullhunk here

What was notable was the willingness to listen to what the community wanted and by suggestions from MCC itself, such as Contaminated Land data which has traditionally been contentious.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/36540620 w=400&h=300]
Visualisation by Jonathan Fisher more details here

After the Hackathon discussion attention focussed on Road Traffic Collision data and the work that Steven Flower, Jonathan Fisher and Jonathan S. – There has been discussion about forming a sub-group around RTC data and its use. So if people want to get involved in that contact Steven Flower on the Google Group. Jonathan Fisher’s visualisations where discussed and also the variation in data quality that exists. It was noted that although data was provided to TfGM who collated the data for the Department of Transport. Different flavours of the data existed in different places. TfGM upload monthly data to DataGM which lacked detail on casualties and vehicles involved. The complete RTC data gets forwarded it to the DfT who then make it available via the DfT website and and data.gov.uk with more detail but in two different versions. We are trying to find out why DataGM only holds a less detailed version.