Three black women in tech sitting together with laptops

You are welcome here

We are committing to a diverse, inclusive Open Data Camp 7

Name: Open Data Camp

What’s that? It’s a free event about open data

OK, that sounds technical….

We promise it isn’t just for people who love data! Open Data Camp is also for people who are new to this data thing like this person who wanted to craft the perfect foi request, people who work in museums, GPs, teachers, people tackling loneliness, parents, librarians, people who work in retail and everyone else.

Open Data Camp is an unconference, so it’s whatever we make it, together.

What the heck is an unconference?

An unconference is an event where those who attend decide together on the day, what the topics will be. No speakers, no pressure, no experts. It’s free, informal and invigorating to pitch a session (or have someone pitch on your behalf!), attend sessions you want to and vote with your feet – if the session isn’t working for you, find another, chill out in our quiet spaces or meet someone new.

On a weekend?! What will I do with the kids?

Weekends are tough! We want this event to be welcoming to families, so child care is something we’re working on. We’re investigating options and we’re keen to hear from people who have suggestions. Get in touch by email ODCampuk@gmail.com or on twitter Open Data Camp.

Is this going to be mainly men?

At Open Data Camp 4: bigger, better, wetter, we noticed our organising team was pretty good on gender diversity but that wasn’t reflected in the makeup of the camp. That’s why we’re working on ways we can make Open Data Camp 7 as welcoming as possible. Here’s what campmaker Sian Thomas says about Inclusivity and feeling able to make your best contribution.

Campmakers at Open Data Camp 5

Will there be folks who look like me?

Being the only person of colour in the room can be jarring – I know – that’s why I volunteered for Open Data Camp 7. Thanks to the success of events like Afrotech Fest, a tech festival by and for Black people of African and Caribbean heritage, we know events are not serving our ethnic groups as well as they could. We also know we need to work on the ethnic diversity of our campmakers.

We want to change and we know it will take more work than writing a blog. Our starting point is setting aside tickets specifically for underrepresented groups. You can book a ticket for Open Data Camp 7: London using the code ODCamp7EDIticket. On both days of the unconference we will have at least one session for people from underrepresented groups to get together, discuss the topics that matter, and help each other.

And if I’m LGBT+?

You’re very welcome at Open Data Camp! We’re working on ways we can make this and future events as welcoming as possible. We’re trying to do better please let us know what we can do. Get in touch by email ODCampuk@gmail.com or on twitter Open Data Camp.

What if I need a space to pray or meditate?

We’re providing a quiet space, the Marie Tharp retreat room, where you can pray or meditate during the camp. It’s private and available for anyone to use during the Open Data Camp weekend.

Marie Tharp Retreat Room
Marie Tharp Retreat Room

What else are you doing to make the camp welcoming?

We’ve developed our code of conduct and our campmakers are on hand if you have concerns.

So how do I get tickets?

Our next ticket launch will be announced on twitter Open Data Camp.

Open Data Camp 7

Open Data Camp #7: London, 2-3 November

In the past few years, the Open Data Camp charabanc has travelled from Winchester to Manchester, from Bristol to Cardiff, and from Belfast to Aberdeen. We’ve always made a point of being as inclusive as possible and giving the wider Open Data communities a way to coalesce in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. We have avoided London as “everything happens there already”.

It’s time to visit the capital

But we felt it was time to bring the charabanc to the capital. We are very happy to announce that the seventh Open Data Camp will be held in at the Geovation Hub in London, on 2-3 November 2019.

Why London now? Logistics are obviously a factor, with many in the organising team possibly busy around Whitehall for a certain other event in October. However, hosting a camp in London also resonated with many people and organisations in our wider network. Many things in the data space have been happening in London and we don’t want to ignore them. For example, there is ongoing work in London, where the National Data Strategy and Data Policy teams are based, while the ODI is running a series of great initiatives from their HQ in London. But we also know that mySociety is running its TICTeC Local conference on 1 November, an event we strongly recommend to the Open Data folks because of a huge overlap of interests and intent with the Civic Tech community it attracts.

We do hope that this will keep the diversity of angles and participants strong.

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, and Ordnance Survey are offering the venue at no charge, we always offer to pay for the extra cleaning , and we want to be able to offer good quality coffee to the attendees, potentially catering, a few drinks at the pub, and take some inclusion action. These things cost money.

Sponsor packages start at just £500, 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 twitter @ODcamp (but you can also contact @drsiant or @puntofisso directly).

At each camp, the surplus goes to the wider UK Gov Camp community. We are fully committed to transparency, and we’ll offer a full account of income and spending at the end of the camp.

Tickets

Open Data Camp is a two-day event, which gives us a great chance to cover loads of open data topics together.

Sometimes people can’t make both days but, with our regular ticketing arrangements, that means we’ve included them in the headcount even though someone else might have been able to attend instead. So we’re trying something new this time: we will issue three types of tickets:

  • tickets for both days
  • Saturday-only tickets
  • Sunday-only tickets

If you can make both days, please take a 2 day ticket. If you can only make one day, please take a Saturday-only or Sunday-only ticket. This should mean that more people can attend because we won’t have vacant spots. We’ll be reviewing the take-up of these tickets as we release batches so we can adjust the proportions to match demands. Please let us know what you think.

The first ticket batch will be released at 12 noon on Wednesday 31 July on our Eventbrite page.

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!”

How can we become better open data producers?

Our session host, Dan Barrett, head of data and search at the UK Parliament, noted that he’d heard two clear messages from the conference so far:

  1. We need to work ever more closely with the users of the data
  2. Need to avoid working on a technical solution that makes an assumption about who our users are and how they will use the data

What else would make data producers better?

Continue reading How can we become better open data producers?

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?

Continue reading Open data to tackle loneliness

Building engagement with Open Data

A few years ago, our session host, Rory Gianni, through being involved with several open data initiatives, saw that some went on to great success and some weren’t sustainable. One factor that seemed to make a difference was engagement – if you are not involving people outside te organisation, why are you doing it? Even if you’re being driven by the stick of legislation, you could still capture why others would be interested.

He has a set of digital engagement notes on GitHub. These follow on from the five stars of open data engagement, conceived at UkGovCamp in 2012.

Continue reading Building engagement with Open Data

Getting Better Open Data at national, regional and local levels

The UK is amongst the best in the world at releasing Open Data at a national level – but the same can’t be said at other parts of government. What can be done?

Could it be that the data at lower levels is less accessible? For every piece of valuable data, there’s at least one local authority doing it well, but rarely more than a couple. For example, around 100 local authorities have published business rates data, but several hundred more haven’t. The vast majority of local authorities haven’t published empty homes data.

Continue reading Getting Better Open Data at national, regional and local levels

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?

Continue reading Open data for health and social care