It is hard to not be distracted by what goes on in politics at a national level, but outside of the Westminster bubble good people are giving up their time to ensure their communities are represented in the development and scrutiny of how local authorities develop, manage and deliver services.
On the 2nd May approximately 270 councils across England will be holding local elections electing approximately 20,000 councilors. These council elections were last contested in 2015 on the same day as the general election and although local elections are fought primarily on a local agenda, they may be seen as a barometer of national political opinion.
These elections will create a wealth of fascinating data. for us to explore. Come on down, bring a computer, bring an idea or just bring yourself. We don’t know where we’re going, but we’ll sure have fun getting there.
We are facing massive environmental crises that are intertwined with our current way of consumption and living. The complexity and scale of these problems can be disempowering, making individual positive action seem directionless and futile.
However, we can take appropriate action and measure the difference we make by using data to understand our environment, to help build evidence-based arguments for change and to hold people to account – whether it’s through seeing the impact of switching electrical devices off (and not leaving them on standby), understanding the air pollution around us so that we can make more environmentally sound choices, or by making sure our waste is recycled appropriately.
This month we’re showcasing initiatives that are using data to help the environment through tracking waste, energy monitoring and pollution, with presentations from:
“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.
Open Data Manchester working with Sensorstream Ltd and Things Manchester is developing a platform for gathering, analysing and sharing insight from sensors within buildings.
The Knowable Building Framework is an Internet of Things framework for monitoring the performance of older commercial buildings in a non-invasive way using discrete low power sensors, and if appropriate publishing this data 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 initiative will harness the connectivity of the public Things Network, that covers a large proportion of Greater Manchester and across the North, 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. This will have the further benefit of not only measuring building performance but connecting other sensor data as as well.
It is a collaboration with the City of Rennes in Brittany, seen as a centre of excellence regarding the development of Low Power Wide Area Networks and open data, and is funded through the Open Data Institute.
We will be running a workshops in Rennes and Manchester with building owners and technologists in January and February, to understand how better to design and implement the framework. If you would like to be involved, email us at hello [a] opendatamanchester.org.uk
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.
July’s event looking at how data was used before, during and after the referendum provoked plenty of thought provoking discussion. The two presentations from Celia Russell and Julian Tait have now been uploaded on to SlideShare and the audio posted on Soundcloud. Unfortunately due to a noisy video projector the audio isn’t the best but the presentations and discussions from Michelle Brook, Bob Barr, Celia Russell and Julian Tait are audible and have been edited down as separate files.
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
Afsniti is a yearly Innovation Competition that takes place at the end of November in Hørsholm Hospital. If you are a creative entrepreneur, artist or innovator or have a really good idea they would like to hear from you. There is a top prize of 100,000 DKR and if you are one of the 20-24 projects chosen you will be invited over to Denmark to take part in the Afsnit I Camp and Festival. Accommodation and food is provided with the possibility of support for travel too.