Andy Dudfield, who works for “a small charity” called Full Fact, which checks out the claims made by politicians and others, said he had pitched this session because “fact checking is hard to do” and “we are always looking for ways to make it go faster.”
So, he said, “one of the things that we would like to do is to look at using open data for fact checking” and he would like his audience to tell him about any good open data sources for the job. And, also what the caveats were likely to be.
An Open Data Camp 7 session on countering excuses for not publishing open data, led by Jenny Broker. Liveblogging: prone to error, inaccuracy and howling crimes against grammar and syntax. Post will be improved in the coming days.
Excuse: It’s a safety thing – it’s critical and it could be useful to terrorism
Safety is the first thing people will come after you with. For example, in utilities, it’s a very real concern, particularly around the location of assets. Is this a genuine concern, or an easy way of shutting down a conversation? Is this information that’s not already accessible via Google Maps, for example? Crashing critical infrastructure is a genuine risk. The most risky data is already heavily controlled — and is often not even shared within government. That comes with its own problems – issues get missed because staff don’t have access to the full picture.
So, if Google Maps has the data, if we make it more accessible, is there a potential for spotting problems earlier? Well, liability now raises its head. Pretty much all datasets are infested with personal data, so if you published the data, and something happens, you’re liable. Some people don’t want to take that risk. This is another standard way of hiding from open data. Some organisations have developed organised risk assessments for open data – it create a more structured way to talk about risk. Continue reading Dealing with Open Data excuses→
After lunch at Open Data Camp 7, consultant Edafe Onerhime explained why she had wanted to raise the issue of ‘decolonialising data’.
She is Nigerian as well as British, she explained, and her research had brought her into contact with the issue of “white by default.” As an example, she said, the census puts ‘white, British’ at the top of its identity options; which affects the data that is collected, because people have to scroll down to find other options.
At the same time, she said, a lot of technology relies on data collection and analysis that is carried out in India and countries and Africa. For example, a lot of tagging of pictures for what is billed as AI is done there. The taggers may not receive much money; yet their work is consumed by affluent, Western consumers.
So, the question: “How can we remove the effects of colonisation on data collection and use?” Campers at the session felt the first issue is to recognise that there is a problem, and the second is to get more voices at the table. Then, the assumptions underlying the collection and use of data need to be interrogated. Continue reading Decolonialising Data→
A session from Open Data Camp 7 on delivering started nationally, led by Anne McCrossan. Liveblogged notes. Prone to error, inaccuracy and howling crimes against grammar and syntax. Post will be updated in the coming days.
Do we really have a national data started yet? Where we do have strategies – how well are they being implemented? Can we move things forwards by sharing experiences with each other?
Northern Ireland is on its second data strategy in six years. The first one was all data open by default – but they didn’t really have the delivery mechanisms or incentives to get civil servants to deliver. Hence the reason for a new one so quickly. It has a lot more reporting mechanisms in there, to exert pressure on local authorities, and report that upwards to general government.
Over the first three years, the success stories tended to be with startups and external companies. The frustrations were with the civil service.
What are our desired as a community, and how would they be expressed? Open data strategy in particular has tended to be less a strategy and more a commitment to getting it out. This is partially the result of the movement being kicked off by a coalition of interests. It can be challenging for some political ends.
Do we need outcomes? This is still an emergent space, so it’s hard to know what outcomes you might get. For example, going to the moon gave us Velcro, but it wasn’t part of the strategy… It’s very difficult to know what people will do with open data. So, maybe the strategy should just be delivery.
A session on Wardley Maps and value chains, led by Jonathan Kerr. Liveblogged notes – prone to error, inaccuracy and howling crimes against grammar and syntax. Post will be improved in the coming days.
What are Wardley Maps?
A map is a thing that shows a space – where things are in relationship to each other, as well as the overall concept. All models are, by nature, simplifications. You could make an accurate map of France, but it would be unwieldy…
You can map a blue chain by mapping all the components into an end result – but you don’t need to map every single element, just the ones that are important to you.
As you move along the value chain, you increase repeatability:
Genesis – the original concept. (R&D)
Custom – you start making it (bespoke elements)
Product – you start making machines to make the thing. It become replicable
Utility – available as a service. Think of APIs, charged on per use basis.
This isn’t a linear process – things move in and out of categories. By mapping the parts of the value chain through this grid, you can spot where you have elements of your process which are costing you disproportionate amounts of money.
So… open data. What is it? How do you find it, use it, and get value from it? As ever, Open Data Camp opened with the session that reveals all.
Camp maker Katherine Rooney started with an even more basic question: what is data? Campers gathered at Geovation in London suggested it was an “information set” or “usable information that could be easily shared” while others suggested that to be data, information needed to be “structured” in order to be meaningful.
Katherine then moved onto the ‘open’ bit, and said “open data is data that is open to anyone” and “for any purpose.” However, campers heard, it does not have to be free; although, of course, open data enthusiasts want it to be available at the lowest cost and as easily as possible.
This raised the question of where open data comes from. Lots of people publish open data:
But how do you know that published data is open data? “What we are looking for is an open data licence,” Katherine explained. “And that licence lives with the data as metadata.”
Sarah Roberts, who is a member of the team at Swirrl, one of our Bronze Sponsors, has written about Open Data Camp 7 on Swirrl’s blog. Here’s what she said.
We’re happy to be sponsoring Open Data Camp again, which heads to London the weekend of Nov 2nd and 3rd. In honour of the seventh edition of the camp, here are seven recent bits of data discussion which have caught our eye …
Increasing the rate of publication and sharing of government information as open data
Promoting original, useful ways of using open data to show its benefits.
Engaging with the public sector to promote Open Data through events, setting up an innovation fund and running open data competitions
Training so Open Data’s a business function, rather than an ad hoc activity.
There’s a lot of interesting content in the strategy, and it’s especially great to see ‘making data accessible and easy to use’ as one of its key principles. And a mention of tidy data. Be still my beating data heart.
Two: Sweet Harmony
And tidy data makes me think of another good thing going on with open data : The Connected Open Government Statistics project. This is a GSS project which aims to harmonise data across departments so it’s interoperable. There’s a lot of good stuff going on here to tackle the disparate data landscape in a standardised way and a lot of organisations involved. More on this here.
Three: Stand(ards) and Deliver
I don’t go to many conferences, but those I have been to this year have all included AI as a topic. I was talking about this to my colleague, Jamie Whyte, who said one similarity between AI and data science is that they both depend on the quality of data they operate on. Bill Roberts spoke about the same thing from a different angle at our Power of Data event a couple of weeks ago: the idea that if you want to do data science you need some data, most likely from lots of data sources. And if that data’s not in a good shape when it goes it, then the risk is that automation will generate poor quality results. Standards at the point of publication are the answer here — not Adam and the Ants, really. But enjoy the ear worm.
Four: Never Ending Story
Storytelling with data. I know, it’s not new but it’s still something that hooks me in. At the recent GSS conference in Edinburgh, Mark Robinson of NHS Health Scotland presented a really engaging talk on the use of data in interventions for health inequalities. He showed this Shiny app (screenshot below) in his talk, which allows users to select the area & health outcome they want to look at:
Not the catchy Queen song (although, what a song) — the National Data Strategy. We were lucky enough to have Gaia Marcus, who heads up the strategy at DCMS, chair a panel on this at our event a couple of weeks ago. Panelists included Rosalie Marshall, Siân Thomas, Gavin Freeguard and our very own Bill and questions ranged from opportunities to improve public services through effective data use to priorities of data standards and data infrastructures. The videos will be up very soon — worth a watch!
This time Swirrler, and long time Open Data Camp supporter, Jen will be there — say hi if you see her there!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.