Controversially, Gavin Freeguard, head of data and transparency at the Institute for Government, was allowed a PowerPoint presentation at Open Data Camp 4. However, it was in a good cause.
His slides enabled him to give some concrete examples of the data in the Whitehall Monitoring Project, which he runs. The project monitors the shape and size of government, the morale of civil servants, and other factors.
Continue reading A tale of two datasets
Local government seems to be in a perpetual state of competition – while the most efficient use of resources would be to collaborate. So how could open data help facilitate that?
One attendee talked about formalised co-ordination roles. There have been some pockets of good stuff: the Cabinet Office nominated over a dozen councils as their open data champions, with some mixed results. Redbridge’s data sharing platform DataShare, part funded by the LGA, seems to be well-liked by those who have used it. Some other user authorities are using it – but it’s often not as well implemented as the Redbridge implementation.
Continue reading Better local government through open data
A cathartic session of data ranting, where Open Data Camp attendees shared their data horrors under the Chatham House rule:
Horror: A PDF full of screenshots
Looking for the location of fire hydrants? If you make FOI requests, you’ll be told they’re national security, or private data or… One council did send the info – but as a PDF. And in the PDF? Screenshots of Excel spreadsheets.
Lesson: Ask for a particular format…
Horror: Paved with good intentions
A government ministry was asked for its spending data, but had to be fought all the way to the Information Commissioner, because they argued that they had intended to publish, and that was enough to give them leeway not to publish. he Information Commissioner disagreed.
Lesson: Just saying “intent” does not let them off the hook
Horror: Customer Disservice
An angry Twitter user asking about his broadband speed was sent a huge dataset of broadband speeds by postcode, as a zipped CSV. And was a bit cross when he realised he couldn’t use it. So a member of the organisation helped out by creating way of reading it – and got told off by his manager for helping the public.
Lesson: No good deed goes unpunished.
Horror: The art of the inobvious search
Googling a list of GP locations, they found an NHS search service – no place to download it. ONS? 2006 data. It took her getting angry, walking away from the computer, and coming back and making a ridiculous search to find it. If you aren’t make it accessible, why bother?
Lesson: Just creating data isn’t enough.
Continue reading 11 Horror Stories of Open Data