All posts by Jamie Whyte

Open Data Camp Manchester – Last minute notes for attendees

Open Data Camp is in Manchester on the 10th and 11th October 2015, and we are one of the organisers. Here are some last minute notes for attendees – about WiFi, the pub, and timings.

Open Data Camp (Manchester) – Last minute notes for attendees

We’re really excited about Open Data Camp 2. To get the most out of the two days, we wanted to set out some of the logistics, and other things we think you might want to know.


Timings Please?

Doors will open on both days at 9:00am. Register, log on to WiFi, visit the sponsors stands, network, have coffee, etc, until 10:00am, when the pitching will take place. First session is expected to start at 10:30 and there will probably be two sessions in the morning, each of around 50 minutes, then lunch, then three sessions in the afternoon, with a half five finish. (This is all subject to change, dependant on many factors)

What’s the deal with food?

There will be pastries on arrival, and tea and instant coffee available throughout the day. Unfortunately, because of budgetary constraints we cannot offer lunch. There is, however, a wide range of eateries around the Shed – cheap and big-portions – vegetarian, vegan, halal etc. These will be detailed on a map on your lanyard. Pancho Burritos have offered a 15% discount to lanyard wearers, and the Enrique (the owner) has offered to ‘cook something up special’(!).

How do I unconference?

Open Data Camp is a two day unconference. This means that we have no idea what will go down. For those who have not been to an unconference before, the idea is that attendees set the agenda on the day, by pitching to run sessions. People can then choose which sessions to go to.

Please please please if you have any kind of an idea for a session, don’t be afraid to pitch it. In February we had all sorts of sessions, from open data horror stories, through open addresses, to homelessness.

If you fancy getting your hack on – pitch it as a session, and people can join in if they fancy it – there are really no constraints (as long as there’s no outraging public decency).

The final thing we would REALLY appreciate is if people could blog and tweet over the two days. Matt from Drawnalism will be there to draw what’s going on, but the more chatter about it there is, the better. Twitter hashtag is #ODCamp.

What about the pub?

We’ll be hitting the Sandbar both evenings –Friday and Saturday. We’ve not booked a room or anything, so we’ll have to slum it with non-open data types. From there – Manchester is your oyster – the bearded hipsterland that is the Northern Quarter, mix it up with the students down Oxford Road, or go for the hedonistic paradise of Canal Street.

Will there be WiFi?

Yes, there will be WiFi – you will be issued a sticker with your username and password on arrival.

How do I get there?

The venue is the Shed – a great space in the shadow of the Mancunian Way.

Anything else?

Remember that it’s YOU that made ODCamp 1 a success, and its you that’ll make ODCamp 2 a success. If you need help with anything over the weekend, the people in green t-shirts are slightly more likely to know what’s going on. We, the organisers, are very much looking forward to seeing what happens – we hope you are too.

Open Data Camp 2.0 – Details Announced

Map of United Kingdom and Ireland with markers showing where ODcamps have been, in Winchester and Hampshire
ODCamp on Tour!


On the weekend of the 6th and 7th of June, several of the organisers of Open Data Camp were at Blue Light Camp – helping to spread the open data love. In the midst of the activity, a tweet was smuggled out:

All true..!

We have been working hard to make sure that Open Data Camp moves around the country, and given the first one was in deepest southern England, we really wanted to bring the next one up North. We asked for people to put forward their recommendations – and though there was some initial interest from Leeds and Bradford – the only concrete proposals were from Manchester (The Shed, Manchester Metropolitan University’s Digital Innovation Centre) and Preston (The Media Innovation Studio at the University of Central Lancashire). Both are excellent venues, but we, the organisers, decided that because ODCamp is still in its early days, we could make good use of the well-established open data community in Manchester to bring a local flavour to the camp, while retaining the national (international?!) prominence.

So, the details that we know so far are that it will be held on the 10th and 11th of October 2015, at The Shed, Manchester. And that’s it! Because it’s an unconference, we don’t know what will happen, but if its anything like the first one, there will be a LOT of cake excellent sessions, pitched by incredible open data people.

Any suggestions, comments or feedback would be great – either through the comments box below, or on twitter. You could probably tap up the organisers directly if you want the personal touch. As a reminder, we are:

Mark Braggins
James Cattell
Neil Ford
Hendrik Grothuis
Martin Howitt
Lucy Knight
Pauline Roche
Giuseppe Sollazzo
Sasha Taylor
Sian Thomas
Jamie Whyte

We think we need a smattering of local knowledge to make sure the camp is a success, both to help connect us with local groups and businesses, and to help with the social side. For these, we’ve asked two people to join the organisers:

Julian Tait, of Open Data Manchester
Vim Appadoo, of SpacePortX

Keep an eye on this site for more details as they are released – ticketing etc. You should also follow ODCamp on twitter for updates.

Finally, these sorts of things would absolutely not be possible without the generosity of our sponsors. If you feel like you can contribute to the costs in exchange for publicity (and a warm feeling inside), see our sponsors pages.

Many thanks, and we look forward to seeing you in October!

The Organisers


Open Data Camp 2 – It’s on like Donkey Kong

We, The Organisers of Open Data Camp, do hereby announce that we have started to think about ODCamp 2. The success of the first ODCamp meant that it would be wrong to not have another one.

We have had a couple of hangouts, and the main topic of conversation so far has revolved around what to call the next Open Data Camp. Pole position so far is ODCamp 2 -The Wrath of Maude. We are open to suggestions.

Probably more importantly though, is where and when to hold ODCamp2. In Winchester, we all agreed that we would like to move ODCamp around the country and that the North would be a good next destination. In terms of a rough date, we had it pointed out that holding ODCamp on International Open Data Day was actually a bad move, as it detracted from local ODD events. We also know that we need to keep the momentum that we’ve started to build. With that in mind, we are proposing that ODCamp 2 takes place somewhere in the North, some time in Autumn. We are also suggesting that ODCamp slowly makes its way up North, and stops off in the West Midlands, at Blue Light Camp on the 6th and 7th June 2015, for a bit of open data/emergency services mashup action.

Unsurprisingly, given ODCamp’s success, we have already had enquiries from organisations who want to host ODCamp2. In the spirit of openness and transparency, we would now like to invite expressions of interest to host ODCamp2 (not like a big formal tender process – just trying to make sure we do our best to get it right)

We have come up with a few points that any expression of interest will need to address, to try and ensure we have another successful camp:

  • A venue with a big room that can hold up to 200 people (not necessarily seated)
  • the venue should also have at least 4 breakout rooms
  • Transport to and from the venue should be good
  • Accommodation should be plentiful, with the possibility of securing deals for attendees
  • Entertainment nearby
  • Excellent WiFi capabilities
  • A local person able to work with the organisers
  • Free/cheap and available in Autumn
  • Catering (tea / coffee / sandwiches / cake)

If you know of someone or somewhere in the North who has an appetite for hosting the next full ODCamp – maybe write a blog piece expressing interest and demonstrating how the above points will be met, and link to it in the comments below here. Or simply put the details straight into the comments. The more info the better. We will then review all the suggestions, in the week of the 13th April, and then make some sort of announcement.

Also, any suggestions for a name gratefully received – in the comments, please…


The Organisers


This post was originally published on the Trafford Innovation and Intelligence Lab web site.

I am currently helping to organise an event called ‘Open Data Camp’, which is to be held in Winchester (it’s near Southampton), on the 21st and 22nd February 2015. We think that it’s definitely the first of its kind in the UK, and possibly the first in the world (or even the universe, depending on which side of the Drake Equation fence you sit on). The 21st of February also happens to be International Open Data day.

Open Data Camp is a two-day event, consisting of an unconference and maker-space. The focus of the event is entirely open data – the notion of making data available so that it can be reused by anyone, without any restrictions. Though the event is an unconference (which means the content of the day is decided by attendees at the beginning of the day), it is likely that there will be sessions looking at the National Information Infrastructure, technical challenges, and opportunities presented by open data, amongst lots of other things.

Who is doing this?

The campmakers are a ragtag group of open data people:

Mark Braggins (Hampshire Hub Partnership)
James Cattell (Cabinet Office)
Neil Ford (Events)
Hendrik Grothuis (Cambridgeshire County Council and Open Data User Group)
Martin Howitt (Devon County Council)
Lucy Knight (Devon County Council and LocalGov Digital)
Pauline Roche (Birmingham)
Giuseppe Solazzo (Open Data User Group)
Sasha Taylor (British Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials)
Sian Thomas (Food Standards Agency)
Jamie Whyte (Trafford Innovation and Intelligence Lab and LocalGov Digital)

Open Data Camp also has a number of excellent sponsors, without whom it would not be happening:

Hampshire County Council
Open Addresses
Food Standards Agency
Office for National Statistics
Ordnance Survey

Why are we doing this?

We are a group of people who are passionate about open data. We really feel that by opening data up, good things happen. There are many events held where open data is a supporting cast member – but at Open Data Camp – it’s the star of the show. To bring together 200 people for a weekend who are into open data is a brilliant opportunity to push open data forward.

Why are Trafford doing this?

Trafford has a history of doing open data well. We worked on setting up DataGM, we were the first Local Authority to be awarded a Pilot Level Open Data Institute Certificate, and we have recently been asked to work with the Cabinet Office as Local Experts in Open Data – working with a handful of other Councils who also do it well.

We use open data, as well as releasing it. We have recently used open data to identify priority sites for positioning defibrillators, apply for funding to support projects to reduce isolation in the elderly, and combined open and closed datasets to analyse cervical cancer screening rates, amongst many others.

Because of this, we have a vested interest in the wider open data picture. The more open data is released, the more we can use it to provide intelligence – through analysis and benchmarking. The better our intelligence is – the more informed our decision-making is.

But apart from the benefits that more data brings, there’s another good thing that’s happening because of the camp. The open data community is exceptionally talented, but is quite thinly distributed across the globe. Open Data Camp is being used as a touch point for some of these groups and organisations – the camp itself is now looking likely to connect with the Open Knowledge Foundation hack in London, Bath:Hacked, Greater Manchester Data Synchronisation Programme Lean Startup weekend, Ebola Open Data Jam, and ODI nodes. The mechanics of these link-ups are yet to be worked out, but the fact that these connections are forming is very good for the open data movement.

How can you get involved?

All the tickets for Open Data Camp have now been sold (or rather allocated – it’s a free event). I will blog about the event once it has happened, with outcomes, outputs, challenges, etc. We (the campmakers) will be tweeting in the run up to the event, and during the event itself, using the hashtag #ODcamp. All attendees will also be asked to tweet during the event. We are also looking into ways that we can livestream sessions – more details of that will be available on the website.

Finally – if the camp is a success, we’ll probably look to make it an annual feature. If so I’ll do my best to drag the next one up North. Don’t be afraid to get tickets and come along!