Open Data Camp 9

We’d love to see you

We are conscious that Open Data Camp could be more diverse and are working to open up the event to more people in Manchester.

For Open Data Camp 9, the volunteers who put on this year’s open data camp have introduced a few new measures and retained some old ones to ensure that this year’s camp hopefully is easy to attend for as many people as possible. 

Event tickets are free

Firstly, our tickets are available now and they are free. You can get those on Eventbrite and we welcome everybody to attend the event.

Childcare at the event

Secondly, this year we’re working with Sweetheart Nannies who are an OFSTED-approved nanny agency to provide childcare at the event itself.

To take advantage of this, all we ask is that you let us know how many children may be attending and their age when you’re booking your tickets for the event. This is so we can ensure that we have as many accredited nannies on site as is needed. Please email us at odcampuk@gmail.com. We do need to let Sweetheart by Friday June 7th how many children they will be looking after, so please get in touch as soon as possible.

Subsidised accommodation

We’ve also worked with Manchester University to provide halls of residence accommodation at a discounted rate for those who are attending the event.

You can book these for the Friday and for the Saturday night when you’re booking your tickets for the event. We’ve tried to keep the prices for these as low as possible.

Bursaries

We’ve also made bursaries available so that we can help anybody who wants to attend the event and has any additional needs that could need financing, whatever they may be. 

We want to ensure that this process is as easy for everybody as it can be. When you book your tickets via Eventbrite, you’ll also receive a link to a simple form that will ask for a brief breakdown of the bursary you need, and we’ll be in touch as soon as we can. If you have already got a ticket, please email at odcampuk@gmail.com and we’ll send you the form link.

You tell us!

And finally, please do get in contact if there are other things that you feel that we can do to make the event more accessible to you.

We believe that the open data community is an open community and we want to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to back that up with this event in Manchester.

 

Open Data Camp 9: Manchester, 6-7 July 2024

Hi Folks. Y’alright?  It is that most wonderful time of the year again. Open Data Camp ticket day. We are extremely pleased to say that we are revisiting Manchester. We will be there for the 6th and 7th of July 2024 and we hope you will be too. 

Open Data Camp 9

 

The ninth Open Data Camp will be taking place at the beautiful MECD building on the University of Manchester campus. Thank you to the University of Manchester, the UK Reproducibility Network and our long term friends Open Data Manchester for making this possible.

University of Manchester MECD

Also, in what might be a ODCamp first, on the Saturday evening from 18.00-20.00 we will be having a reception at Whitworth Art Gallery, also hosted by the University and the UK Reproducibility Network, which will include catering for all attendees.

 

Let me put you in the picture, let me show you what I mean

Why Manchester? Logistics are a factor, the Campus is close to the Manchester Oxford Road train station. It is a modern building which hopefully means good levels of accessibility for all attendees and we have verified the wi-fi is good. The local data and tech scene is a strong one and we feel like we can put on a really good and well attended event here.

It is also in the middle of a large city, which means a wide variety of accommodation options. To help make life easier, and hopefully as cheap as possible, we have secured 3 floors of the Dalton Ellis Halls of residence and have 30 places there at £60 for a single night (Friday or Saturday) or £110 for both nights for bed and breakfast. This is an ideal location for the camp and we are pretty excited about being able to offer this deal. 

Bountiful and likely slightly more expensive options of hotels across Manchester are also available

The hall’s spaces are available on a first come, first served basis and can be secured through our Eventbrite booking page alongside the regular admission tickets.

The small team of dedicated volunteers that put on the camps are as committed as ever to the importance of open data, and to providing a safe and inclusive space for discussing the good, bad and frustrating parts of our collective efforts and community. We will be running the event as an unconference as normal, running all day Saturday and Sunday.

We appreciate that taking time out to attend a conference on a weekend is not something that is easy for everyone to do and we have tried to take steps to help support as many people as possible to attend. Along with the university halls accommodation, we are committed to providing professional childcare as part of the conference. This year we will be working with Sweetheart Nannies, who are Ofsted registered and have been recommended by the organisers of Reframe Women in Tech conference

They will provide appropriate staffing numbers in a dedicated separate room from 09.30-17.30 on both days of the conference. If you are interested in using the childcare service or have any queries please get in touch by email ODCampuk@gmail.com

Finally, we are also making bursaries available to cover some or all of the costs of covering attendance at the conference. This can include travel, accommodation or any other associated costs. We appreciate that people may wish to make a request for a wide variety of reasons and we are attempting to make this process as simple as possible. We will ask for some details via a web form that will be published in the coming days and the camp organisers will review each application on a case by case basis. 

A call for sponsors and a commitment to transparency

Running Open Data Camp is not free. While the organising team is fully formed of volunteers who offer their time for free, we always offer to pay for the extra cleaning , and we want to be able to offer good quality coffee to the attendees, catering, childcare provision, and help more people attend. We hope to have at least 100 people attend and these things cost money.

Sponsor packages start at just £600, and all details are on this web page. We appreciate both small contributions from people and small companies in our community, and larger donations from larger entities. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor then please contact us via the online form or email your query to ODcampuk@gmail.com or via X at @ODcamp or Bluesky at @odcamp.bsky.social (you can also contact @puntofisso or @mr_dudders directly on X / Bluesky / most other places. They are pretty easy to find.)

We are fully committed to transparency, and we’ll offer a full account of income and spending at the end of the camp. 

Tickets

You can find tickets on Eventbrite. They are being released at 10:00 am, Wednesday April 24th.

Photo credit: University of Manchester

 

Open Data Camp 8: That’s all folks!

And that’s a wrap. Another Open Data Camp has come to an end. Many thanks to the University of Wolverhampton, all the sponsors, the fabulous camp makers and, of course, the participants, for a fun and informative couple of days. Will there be an Open Data Camp 9? Where will it be? Keep your eyes peeled for the answers. And don’t forget that Pauline Roche has a brand new Open Data Camp LinkedIn page going that you can follow to keep the conversation flowing.

LinkedIn: What’s its potential for an open data community?

Pauline Roche, a librarian and journalist, who has been coming to Open Data Camp since 2015, suggested this session. “For the first time, we have opened a company page on LinkedIn,” she said. “That’s because Twitter has become… less reliable… and we need another place to gather.

“As of this morning, we have 106 people following. So I wondered how people are using LinkedIn and what we could use it for.”

One participant said they had been on LinkedIn for a long time, but that was because they had a background in financial services. “I always see it as part of that formal, business culture, whereas I see Open Data Camp as more part of the counter-culture. So, I am interested in whether we can get over that.”

Continue reading LinkedIn: What’s its potential for an open data community?

Is it getting hot in here?

Lisa Allen said MenopauseX came out of Women in Data, which was set up to address barriers to women taking up employment.

A high proportion of women drop out in their 50s, as they go through perimenopause or menopause. So, MenopauseX is looking for data that can explain this. “We are looking for a smoking gun,” Lisa said.

“We publish stats for population, and aging, but there are other data sets that might be useful, like how many women go part-time, or drop out? “How can we get data out of companies to help them tackle these issues? What I want to get out of this session is help – how do we do this?”

One participant suggested one challenge is that it can be hard to disentangle issues connected with the menopause from issues associated with mid-life in general – weariness, caring for elderly relatives, careers stalling.

Continue reading Is it getting hot in here?

How do we grow the workforce we need?

“Ok, so, I have called this session: how do we grow the workforce we need,” said Adam Locker from National Highways. “Because I am tired of the public sector saying we have no money, we can’t pay enough, and we’ll never get the people we need.

“We are all here. So how do we find bright people, and encourage professionalism, and grow the workforce we need?”

Participants felt one place to start would be to look outside traditional sources of recruitment. One suggested that customer service departments are a great source of engaged people who want to solve problems, and who can be taught specific skills, like how to code.

A challenge to this is the DDAT – the Digital Data and Technology Professional Capability Framework – which sets out what competencies people should have to be recruited into certain roles. However, this only addresses some aspects of digital work. And the session argued that if it needs to be changed “we need to own it.”

Continue reading How do we grow the workforce we need?

Generative AI, large language models and open data

Alex Ivanov, a data scientist from Faculty, wanted to talk about some of the technology that has been making waves in the press recently.

Usefully, he started by defining a few terms. “LLMs are a subset of AI models,” he said. “They are trained on vast amounts of text data and they can learn the intricacies of human language to do things like answer questions or search databases. At heart, they are trained to predict the next piece of text.

“Generative AI is a wider thing that can create things that are new, including text, and images, and even drugs: they are very broad. So, in any AI, we are talking about a machine learning from data. And the main difference between normal AI and generative AI is the output.

“In traditional AI, we focus on data and classification, to predict things like whether someone will develop diabetes, or even house prices. Wheras with generative AI we create data that was not there already.

“Where open data comes in is that these models are often trained on big datasets, so it can provide the raw material. However, there are certain challenges. One is data quality. If you just pick up lots of data without thinking about its quality that can cause problems.

“Then, there is privacy. Most open data doesn’t identify individuals, but there are some cases where that can happen. You need standardisation to bring all these sources together. Scaleability can be an issue. There are legal issues.

“And we need to think about transparency: some of these AIs are like black boxes, their outputs are almost like magic, so we need to understand what kind of output they are likely to have, and what impact that is likely to make.

“So, I’d like to think about how open data works in this context, and how we address some of these issues around transparency and bias.”

Continue reading Generative AI, large language models and open data

Stand back behind the yellow line, day two will be arriving shortly

Day one of Open Data Camp 8 finished with drinks at the very fine Great Western Railway pub. And now we’re back at the University of Wolverhampton’s Springfield Campus for day two. Take your seats for another round of pitching and grid development: this unconference will be arriving shortly.

Open Data Camp 8 at the University of Wolverhampton Springfield Campus, with the old Springfield Brewery gate in the background.

So, following a small incident with a deer leaping over a car parked near the local canal, here comes the outcome of the pitching session.

Continue reading Stand back behind the yellow line, day two will be arriving shortly

Climate change and net zero

The climate crisis is the big issue of our times. But how can data be used to get to net zero in time?

One issue is who has datasets that might be useful. The UK and EU are more likely to have useful datasets than countries in the developing world; which makes comparisons between them difficult. Even in the EU, a lot of data will be resticted. Only a few countries, like France, are pushing ahead with open data sets that enable communities to push for change.

Even then, no one dataset will do everything. It might provide an answer to a simple question, like what air quality is like in Wolverhampton. But it won’t provide an answer to a complex question. And climate change is the ultimate complex question. Plus, communities need to know what is available if they are going to use data to apply pressure for change.

Continue reading Climate change and net zero

Data and representation

Julian Tait, the chief executive of the Open Data Manchester CIC, opened this discussion by saying that “a lot of data comes from a very top-down, managerial perspective.” It “tries to put people in boxes” that “don’t fit their lived experience” and that leads to “poor decision making.”

So, he asked, “how can we as data practitioners make sure data better represents the people we want to serve” and “we don’t get so much sh*t policy.”

Specifically, he said, his organisation is working on a project to tackle violence against women and girls. Often, initiatives in the space focus on better lighting, or more police, when the feedback is this doesn’t work – and those affected might have completely different ideas.

Continue reading Data and representation