Category Archives: ODCamp5

Maximum Open Data impact for minimum effort

A very popular session at Open Data Camp 5 discussed how to measure the benefit of open data.

Session leader Deirdre Lee, the founder and chief executive of Derilinx, which works with the Republic of Ireland and city of Dublin on open data projects, argued that in the early days, people were focused on publishing data sets.

Now that a lot of data is available, debate is moving onto getting people to use the data – and to realise benefit. So, she said, the questions now are: how do you measure the impact of open data, how do you prioritise which data sets to release, and how do you get government departments to embed this into their everyday work?


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Could free wifi use data be useful to Belfast?

If you walk through a wifi area and have wifi enabled on your phone, the system can track a certain amount about your presence and movement. They could have that data for Belfast’s city council run wifi networks, which are on around 70 buildings – so what can be done with it? If they had enough compelling use cases they could partner with other organisations to grow the data set.

That data includes things like the device MAC address, the SSID of the network you’ve connected to, and so on.

When you login, you give consent for that data to be collected and used. You don’t if you haven’t connected. Most mobile phones announce their presence to find wifi hotspots.

What value would a wifi nerd see in this?


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Getting the open data you need for good Neighbourhood Planning

Neighbourhood plans are a crucial part of the UK’s planning infrastructure, allowing people to have a serious say in the development of their own area. People in Bramcote decided to take advantage of this – the move to do a neighbourhood plan was driven by a desire to preserve the green belt in the area.

They decided to work on Bramcote ward – a political ward – for simplicity’s sake.

Judith’s first step in building the maps and plans needed for the plan was working out what’s there already. She sought open data that showed what existed within the ward, from walks to infrastructure to the areas of green belt. Local wildlife sites were easily defined – the shapes were downloaded from, but some local sites weren’t there. They were found at Nottingham Insight mapping, but it wasn’t downloadable. A printout isn’t super-useful for GIS work – and the data wasn’t released for anything but personal use. And the data owners wouldn’t allow permission.

Greenbelt boundaries have been published, so they could see how they’ve been changed. But consultation on planning shapefiles weren’t available for use.

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Belfast’s Low Power Wide Area Network: how to use it?

Led by: Mark McCann: smart technology team, Belfast council.

Background: There was a competition for a low power wide area network outside London, which has a LP WAN already.

A consortium led by Ulster University won the competition and will pay for a LP WAN that can be used by universities and companies for research. Councils have provided pots of money to address challenges in the city that an LP WAN might address.

NB: A low power network can be used for small amounts of data, intermittently. So, 4G connects all the time; but this uses up power very quickly. Low power networks allow, for example, sensors to transmit small amounts of data at set times, so they retain their power much longer.


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Open Data Horror Stories: 2017 Edition

There’s a tendency to focus on personal data as the major risk of open data. But there has to be more than that.

ODI Devon has made a policy of holding its meetings around the county. This avoids everything becoming Exeter-centric, but there is a cost to hiring the meeting rooms, and as they publish their spending as open data, it’s led to some criticism.

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Can Open Data help Northern Ireland bring down its interfaces?

The interface team in Northern Ireland is tasked with dealing with the peace walls – Interfaces – which separate Protestant and Catholic areas of Belfast and elsewhere – which are due to come down by 2023. The program has a Twitter account and Facebook accounts to increase engagement with individuals and communities concerned.

Cupar Way is the largest of the interface structures.


In order to get them down, then government has committed to only removing them with the consent of the involved communities – but actually reaching this point present significant challenges. And some of these areas are the most deprived in Northern Ireland.

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The EveryPolitician project

Open Data Camp 5 is taking place in the Computer Science Department of Queen’s University. It’s a modern institituion that wants to make sure its students are ready for work.

So there are rooms that are carpeted with artificial turf, filled with trees, and furnished with garden benches. Of course there are.

The second session of the morning gathered in the garden room to discuss the EveryPolitician project [], a bid to collect information about every politician in the world, anywhere.

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Open Data GP Registers

Northern Ireland has always needed to keep registers of GPs and other health providers. Now, at least some people in its government and health and social care service are looking to release the GP register as open data: a single list of GPs in Northern Ireland that is available in machine readable format.


Why? Session leader Steven Barry explained:

“Lots of government departments have lots of service information, but it is often collected manually, so when somebody leaves it stops, or people do it differently.

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