All posts by Lyn Whitfield

Open data camp 6: the final reckoning

No open data camp happens without a LOT of help: from the hosts, the sponsors, the camp-makers, the note-takers, and the livebloggers and drawnalists.

But open data camp is valuable and fun – and bids to host the next one are now being taken. If you want us to come to you, then tell us how wonderful your town is, why you would like to have us, and what you can offer. Details on the website!

To read all about ODCamp6, boot up the Twitter hashtag #ODCamp; read the posts on this blog, or read (and even better add to) the session notes on the session grid spreadsheet.

For now, from Aberdeen, in the immortal words of Looney Tunes:

“That’s all folks!”

Open data to tackle loneliness

The government recently published a loneliness strategy, asking how support could be provided for people in “society as it is now”. In other words, in a society in which people travel further for work, but shop online and make use of social media.

How could open data support its aims? What data would be useful, where would we find it, and is just sharing that data enough?

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Beyond the public sector

What’s the problem? Open Data Camp 6 in Aberdeen discussed how to get SMEs to publish and use open data. And session leader Prateek Buch from the DCMS said that was important.

But he also wanted to discuss the bigger issue of how public policy could support other kinds of organisation to release data as open data.

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Open data for health and social care

Session leader Katya Bozukova said that she works for the Lincolnshire Open Research and Innovation Centre, a university-based team that works with charities and SMEs on data driven innovation, and on projects that address the challenges posed by an ageing population.

Her organisation wants to publish open data around its work: “but we know need to do it in an ethical way.” In the meantime,  she would like to know what data sets are already out there, that her organisation might use. What, she asked, were other session members hoping to get out of the session?

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Data for trustworthy AI

A conversation on a big topic:

Bill Roberts (@billroberts): This occurred to me because I have  been reading a book called Made by Humans by Ellen Broad. People think that AI is magic, but it is created by algorithms that are written by humans, which means that sometimes it works really well and sometimes it does not. I wanted to discuss how to choose data for particular uses and how to interrogate biases. Also, how data publishers can address some of these issues. AI is second only to blockchain in the hype cycle at the moment. So how do we make sure that we make good choices about something that might have a big effect on people’s lives?

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Starting the open data journey

One of the big questions that often comes up at Open Data Camp is where to start. So at Open Data Camp 6 in Aberdeen there was a session on that subject.

Leader Pauline Roche asked what advice people would give, and the ideas that came back fell into two, broad categories: advice for those who want to publish open data and advice for those who want to use it.

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The why question: what is the purpose of open data?

Leader Nick Ananin, a project officer at Aberdeen City Council, explained that he had pitched the session because he was “confused”.

He explained that he was a system designer, and the first question a system designer always asks is: “What is the purpose of the system?” From that, he argued, it is possible to ask questions like: what products and functions will be needed to deliver that; and what controls will be put on them.

“So, in terms of open data, I started to think “how can we make sure that local authorities, when we publish data and add metadata, publishing the right data and adding the right meta data?” Get this wrong, he warned, and it would be impossible for potential users to find information, or for publishers to make sure it met their needs.

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Open Data Camp 6: open data for newbies

Open Data Camp 6 in Aberdeen opened with the ever popular (totally essential and very informative) ‘open data for newbies’ session.

And it started with a question: “Who knows what open data is?”

Participants decided the critical answers are that: it is data that can be made public (so not personal data); that is available free (or near free) for other people to use; and that is properly licensed as such.

Also, that it should be easily and available and consumable; although there is considerable debate about what that means.

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