For more than a decade, Open Data Manchester (ODM) has been raising awareness of the opportunities and challenges of using data, and supporting individuals and organisations to build their understanding and skills. 

The following timeline highlights the breadth and depth of Open Data Manchester’s work and impact over the years, showcasing key projects, partnerships, and acheivements in its mission to promote responsible and intelligent data use.

  • Collaborated with the GMCA to develop a set of principles for engaging the public in the use of automated decision-making (ADM) systems. The project involved scoping interviews, desk research, workshops with stakeholders from the public and voluntary sectors, drafting and iterating the principles based on feedback, and sharing the process transparently. The final principles aim to establish standards for effective public engagement and accountability in the use of ADM systems within the public sector.
  • Conducted an consultation for the University of Manchester’s Research IT department to help them develop their first ever strategy and meet the diverse computational needs of the research community. Through workshops, online sessions, and interviews, we gathered insights into researchers’ needs, barriers to access, future requirements, and equality, diversity, inclusion and accessibility considerations.
  • Continued work to internationalise Open 3P with conference talks in New Orleans and online. Expanded engagement in Open 3P with stakeholders across Europe, North America, Asia and Australia. Launched a Charter to support adoption as well as holding regular dissemination and implementation webinars.
  • Continued delivery of the Right to the Streets project, including workshops and walkabouts to map areas in Gorse Hill, Firswood, and Old Trafford from the perspective of women, girls, and those who identify as trans or non-binary. The project, funded by the Home Office Safer Streets initiative, explored ways to make public spaces safer and more welcoming, and was delivered in partnership with GreaterSport, Trafford Council, and local community organizations to raise awareness and address safety concerns through activities like walks, campaigns, training, and podcasts.
  • Launched the Open 3P standard for packaging data, after 2+ years of development with engagement from over 200 stakeholders from across the packaging ecosystem.  Open 3P enables stakeholders across the packaging value chain to exchange data confidently and consistently, enhancing regulatory reporting, resource efficiencies, and environmental responsibility. Our project lead was also invited on a UKRI Global Expert Mission on plastics sustainability to India.
  • Delivered NERC Digital Solutions Hub user research report and discussed findings at a public webinar hosted by the University of Manchester. The publicly available report serves as a useful resource for organisations seeking to build data infrastructure providing valuable insights into the barriers and challenges users face and the ways in which these can be overcome.
  • Conducted research on behalf on Manchester City Council into digital exclusion through interviews and observations with support providers and residents. The report provided insight into the lived experiences of those facing digital exclusion, supplemented by six case studies and providing recommendations to provide a fuller picture of digital exclusion’s impacts and inform strategic support initiatives.
  • Conducted online and in-person workshops to help the GMCA prioritise actions for implementing the Greater Manchester Information Strategy. The workshops gathered input from the people, communities, and businesses of Greater Manchester to determine which actions should be prioritised for each of the strategy’s six missions.
  • The Data Cooperative Working Group continued to meet bi-monthly, providing support for people developing data cooperative practice. ODM also spoke at the UN Data Working Group in China (online) and contributed to a G20/T20 paper on data cooperatives.
  • Began to refresh the Declaration for Responsible and Intelligent Data Practice by conducting a series of online and in-person workshops to gather input from various stakeholders and update the principles based on recent developments, and continue embedding responsible data practices across the region.
  • Participated in MozFest 2023 in Amsterdam showcasing our ‘Lost in Translation’ exhibit, which challenges the perceived neutrality of listening technologies like Siri, Alexa, and Cortana. The exhibit encouraged participants to read a text about surveillance into a microphone, which is then translated into text using Google’s Speech to Text API, highlighting errors, inaccuracies, and biases inherent in these devices.
  • Hosted an event exploring insights from the 2021 census data, with speakers from Bolton Council, Manchester City Council, and the GMCA.
  • Officially launched the “Right to the Streets” project, funded by the Home Office, in partnership with GreaterSport and Trafford Council, aimed at making public spaces safer for women and girls through community-led data gathering.
  • Secured follow-on funding from Innovate UK for PPP phase 2 extending the Open 3P data standard to cover all packaging materials, build a data-exchange platform, and establish a team to support adoption.
  • Conducted user needs research for the Natural Environment Research Council’s (NERC) Digital Solutions Hub, led by the University of Manchester. Through in-person and online workshops across the UK, our research aimed to grasp the needs, challenges, and barriers in utilising environmental data, to support the development of the hub.
  • Collaborated with Manchester City Council to address digital exclusion in local communities by understanding the needs and motivations of volunteers who assist others in getting online in order to assist the council to develop a sustainable digital champions program, ensuring volunteers feel supported, valued, and have opportunities for progression.
  •  Co-founded Design Justice North, a Design Justice Network node for the north of England. We host monthly meetings for those who are interested in and affected by design and its application, challenging the ways that design and designers can harm those who are marginalised through creating systems of power, and tries to create a world that is safer, more just and sustainable.
  • Took part in The Ethical Dilemma Café, held as part of MozFest 2022, which brought together various organizations including Mozilla, the BBC, and Open Data Manchester to explore the impact of personal data usage in the digital world.
  • Continued “Our Streets Chorlton” by training a cohort of residents to carry out their own community traffic counts, and to help measure impact of interventions such as school streets closures. Held monthly online data chats to enable residents to explore and better understand the data.
  • Joined forces with Bangalore’s Aapti Institute to found the Data Cooperative Working Group, which brings together people and organisations who are keen to explore how the data cooperative model works in practice.
  • In response to the UK governments data reform consultation ‘Data: A New Direction’, ODM organised a series of events to discuss changes and gather community responses. Collaborated with the GMCA and DCMS to ensure a comprehensive regional response, incorporating feedback from various local organisations.
  • Received funding from Innovate UK to work on a partnership project (PPP) alongside Dsposal, OPRL, RECOUP and Ecosurety to improve the quality and availability of plastic packaging data and build upon the previous work on recycling centre data.
  • Kicked off the ‘Our Streets Chorlton’ project in partnership with WalkRideGM and Groundwork, funded by The National Lottery Community Fund, with the mission to create a healthier, greener local area in Chorlton, Greater Manchester. ODM engaged the community through data workshops, teaching residents to collect and analyse local data on travel and pollution, empowering locals to use this data to drive climate action and sustainable living initiatives.
  • Formally launched the Declaration for Responsible and Intelligent Data Practice, garnering support from public and private sector organisations in Greater Manchester.
  • Organised “Policy, Politics and the Algorithm” a series of three public events exploring automated decision-making, where local, national and international experts delved into some of the huge questions we must ask ourselves in a world that’s increasingly data-driven.
  • Developed an open data strategy and roadmap for the City of Izmir, Turkey, commissioned by the International Finance Corporation to assess the maturity of the city’s use of data, the needs of the data re-use community, and to develop an open data strategy and roadmap.
  • Delivered an open data consultation for the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s Local Data Review.
  • The ‘Building a Data Cooperative’ project, developed by Open Data Manchester in partnership with Carbon Coop and supported by the ODI’s Data Infrastructure Stimulus Fund, aimed to create a data cooperative model for small energy cooperatives, exploring how cooperative data custodianship can enhance the collection, use, and sharing of energy data for more ethical and efficient purposes. By empowering members with better control and understanding of their energy data, the project sought to improve services, reduce energy bills, and promote environmentally responsible energy use. Interactive workshops were conducted to test and refine this cooperative model.
  • Supported Your Dsposal in developing an open data standard for public information on local waste facilities. Through stakeholder workshops, the project sought to improve access to accurate recycling centre data, addressing issues like public confusion and waste crime while enhancing recycling rates.
  • Hosted ‘Pick n Mix’, a series of free online workshops led by our community, offering introductions to various tools, resources, and skills in a fun and friendly way. Launched during the first UK COVID-19  lockdown, it ran for two ‘seasons’ of 15 online workshops.
  • Initiates the development of a Declaration for Responsible and Intelligent Data Practice to articulate what ethical data practice is and enable organisations to collaborate on making this a reality.
  • Building on the work of ODI Leeds as part of Open Data Day, develops a real-time dashboard for tracking airline flights, and the environmental impact of flying, to and from Manchester Airport.
  • Develops a prototype data standard for the tracking of hazardous and non-hazardous waste to help drive better recycling rates and reduce the £1 billion per annum impact of waste crime in the UK.
  • Successfully applies to release Greater Manchester bus data for a second time, using the precedent set in 2010, but in the 10 years since the release of the first datasets it is still just as badly formatted. The Bus Act will now compel local transport agencies to release this data properly.
  • Following on from the So You Think You Know Your Country? event series, primarily Who Owns the Land?, ODM develops the Joy Diversion programme as a means of encouraging people to take more interest in the spaces where they live, work and play. Using ideas and techniques from psychogeography, along with the desire to help people have a more experiential, rather than transactional, relationship with their surroundings, this has been developed into a methodology to help those with mobility issues better engage with town planning.
  • Investigates the relationship between community deprivation and political control in English local authorities, creating visualisations to map the relative deprivation profiles, allowing for easy national comparisons. This work evolved to include a more granular analysis of representation at a neighbourhood level by mapping the political affiliations of more than 14,000 local councillors. The open dataset was used in a report by Hope Not Hate called Fear, Hope and Loss, looking at the growing divisions in Britain, and informs ODM’s Data for Communities workshops.
  • Due to increased interest in transport inequality in Greater Manchester, ODM revisits the underlying fare structure of the Metrolink tram system. After a previous, unsuccessful Freedom of Interest request to get the data released in 2010, ODM recreates the fare structure through web scraping and data entry. After being informed there may be legal issues regarding the data’s release, the data is republished as a table of emojis where each animal represents a different fare.
  • Becomes expert advisor to the cities of L’Aquila in Italy, Arad in Romania, and Alcoy and Granada in Spain, as part of the European Commission’s Digital Cities Challenge to help European cities use data to understand their strengths and improve communities.
  • With public- and private-sector support, helps develop a commons-based data infrastructure for Internet of Things services alongside The Ltd – sparking the creation of Things Manchester and the Things North network, stretching from Liverpool to Hull. This leads to a Big Chip Award for Best Development in IoT in 2017. ODM continues to run the free-to-use network across Greater Manchester, with a number of projects now built on top of it.
  • Working with the Democratic Society, ODM develops a series of events called Echo Chambers and ‘Post-Fact’ Politics, looking at the increase in political polarisation, and the distortion of facts and evidence. Initially looking at the data behind the EU referendum in 2016, this highlighted a growing schism in society and its links with technology. A further event helped people investigate possible ways to bridge these divides.
  • With 360Giving, Open Data Manchester develops and delivers a pilot programme to standardise and release grant-giving data from local authorities, housing associations and other funders in Greater Manchester. This enables them to better target their funds, identify areas in need and collaborate more effectively, ultimately seeing Manchester City Council transform how it manages grants and The Cooperative Group release its funding data.
  • Partners on Everyday Growing Cultures, led by The University of Sheffield with The Kindling Trust and Grow Sheffield, to explore digital engagement and open data for allotment holders, those on waiting lists and people interested in growing on unused council land – designed to build stronger, more active communities, benefit local economies, and improve environmental sustainability and food security. One group uses the project to identify places in Greater Manchester with similar growing potential.
  • To counter the corporate abuse of personal data, ODM explores the potential of data cooperatives through workshops involving business, government and the community in Berlin and Manchester. The findings are presented in the Open:Data:Cooperation paper at the Beyond Data Conference in Eindhoven, leading the discussion on the creation of mutual data organisations.
  • Supports the Greater Manchester Data Synchronisation Programme with FutureEverything to get Code Fellows into Salford, Manchester, Trafford and Stockport councils to identify and transform useful datasets – focus is on local planning as a lack of comparability is inhibiting coordinated decision-making.
  • As part of Manchester City Council’s Code Fellow programme, Open Data Manchester successfully places a developer from the community into TfGM to help it develop open data applications.
  • Launches What Is This Thing Called Open Data? – taking a critical look at the reasons and motivations for releasing open data – to start a conversation locally about the good and bad of data practice.
  • ODM supports FutureEverything and Trafford Council on DataGM – The Greater Manchester Datastore – an accessible space for the region’s data and the first public-sector-community datastore collaboration.
  • ODM partners with Manchester City Council to identify data to release for its first-ever hackathon – Lovely Data – starting a new kind of relationship between local authorities and local people.
  • Born out FutureEverything’s Open Data Cities programme, and inspired by open data activists in the UK and internationally, Open Data Manchester (ODM) convenes its first meeting in April.
  • As part of the first global Open Data Day, ODM brings together more than 20 people for its first hackathon, tackling the World Bank’s Apps for Development Challenge as a way to connect the local network with the global community.
  • Successfully lobbies for regional transport agency GMPTE (now TfGM) to release its bus schedules as open data, becoming the first region to do so, and enabling the creation of new applications and insight.
  • Using Freedom of Information requests, ODM gets GMPTE to release bus fare data – but it’s unusable without datasets that are restricted by government licensing. This sparks the community to create alternative ways ti find out how much it costs to travel, including Bus Fair, which asks people to photograph their tickets.

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