Tag Archives: Unconference

Open Data Camp Manchester – Last minute notes for attendees

Open Data Camp is in Manchester on the 10th and 11th October 2015, and we are one of the organisers. Here are some last minute notes for attendees – about WiFi, the pub, and timings.

Open Data Camp (Manchester) – Last minute notes for attendees

We’re really excited about Open Data Camp 2. To get the most out of the two days, we wanted to set out some of the logistics, and other things we think you might want to know.


Timings Please?

Doors will open on both days at 9:00am. Register, log on to WiFi, visit the sponsors stands, network, have coffee, etc, until 10:00am, when the pitching will take place. First session is expected to start at 10:30 and there will probably be two sessions in the morning, each of around 50 minutes, then lunch, then three sessions in the afternoon, with a half five finish. (This is all subject to change, dependant on many factors)

What’s the deal with food?

There will be pastries on arrival, and tea and instant coffee available throughout the day. Unfortunately, because of budgetary constraints we cannot offer lunch. There is, however, a wide range of eateries around the Shed – cheap and big-portions – vegetarian, vegan, halal etc. These will be detailed on a map on your lanyard. Pancho Burritos have offered a 15% discount to lanyard wearers, and the Enrique (the owner) has offered to ‘cook something up special’(!).

How do I unconference?

Open Data Camp is a two day unconference. This means that we have no idea what will go down. For those who have not been to an unconference before, the idea is that attendees set the agenda on the day, by pitching to run sessions. People can then choose which sessions to go to.

Please please please if you have any kind of an idea for a session, don’t be afraid to pitch it. In February we had all sorts of sessions, from open data horror stories, through open addresses, to homelessness.

If you fancy getting your hack on – pitch it as a session, and people can join in if they fancy it – there are really no constraints (as long as there’s no outraging public decency).

The final thing we would REALLY appreciate is if people could blog and tweet over the two days. Matt from Drawnalism will be there to draw what’s going on, but the more chatter about it there is, the better. Twitter hashtag is #ODCamp.

What about the pub?

We’ll be hitting the Sandbar both evenings –Friday and Saturday. We’ve not booked a room or anything, so we’ll have to slum it with non-open data types. From there – Manchester is your oyster – the bearded hipsterland that is the Northern Quarter, mix it up with the students down Oxford Road, or go for the hedonistic paradise of Canal Street.

Will there be WiFi?

Yes, there will be WiFi – you will be issued a sticker with your username and password on arrival.

How do I get there?

The venue is the Shed – a great space in the shadow of the Mancunian Way.

Anything else?

Remember that it’s YOU that made ODCamp 1 a success, and its you that’ll make ODCamp 2 a success. If you need help with anything over the weekend, the people in green t-shirts are slightly more likely to know what’s going on. We, the organisers, are very much looking forward to seeing what happens – we hope you are too.


This post was originally published on the Trafford Innovation and Intelligence Lab web site.

I am currently helping to organise an event called ‘Open Data Camp’, which is to be held in Winchester (it’s near Southampton), on the 21st and 22nd February 2015. We think that it’s definitely the first of its kind in the UK, and possibly the first in the world (or even the universe, depending on which side of the Drake Equation fence you sit on). The 21st of February also happens to be International Open Data day.

Open Data Camp is a two-day event, consisting of an unconference and maker-space. The focus of the event is entirely open data – the notion of making data available so that it can be reused by anyone, without any restrictions. Though the event is an unconference (which means the content of the day is decided by attendees at the beginning of the day), it is likely that there will be sessions looking at the National Information Infrastructure, technical challenges, and opportunities presented by open data, amongst lots of other things.

Who is doing this?

The campmakers are a ragtag group of open data people:

Mark Braggins (Hampshire Hub Partnership)
James Cattell (Cabinet Office)
Neil Ford (Events)
Hendrik Grothuis (Cambridgeshire County Council and Open Data User Group)
Martin Howitt (Devon County Council)
Lucy Knight (Devon County Council and LocalGov Digital)
Pauline Roche (Birmingham)
Giuseppe Solazzo (Open Data User Group)
Sasha Taylor (British Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials)
Sian Thomas (Food Standards Agency)
Jamie Whyte (Trafford Innovation and Intelligence Lab and LocalGov Digital)

Open Data Camp also has a number of excellent sponsors, without whom it would not be happening:

Hampshire County Council
Open Addresses
Food Standards Agency
Office for National Statistics
Ordnance Survey

Why are we doing this?

We are a group of people who are passionate about open data. We really feel that by opening data up, good things happen. There are many events held where open data is a supporting cast member – but at Open Data Camp – it’s the star of the show. To bring together 200 people for a weekend who are into open data is a brilliant opportunity to push open data forward.

Why are Trafford doing this?

Trafford has a history of doing open data well. We worked on setting up DataGM, we were the first Local Authority to be awarded a Pilot Level Open Data Institute Certificate, and we have recently been asked to work with the Cabinet Office as Local Experts in Open Data – working with a handful of other Councils who also do it well.

We use open data, as well as releasing it. We have recently used open data to identify priority sites for positioning defibrillators, apply for funding to support projects to reduce isolation in the elderly, and combined open and closed datasets to analyse cervical cancer screening rates, amongst many others.

Because of this, we have a vested interest in the wider open data picture. The more open data is released, the more we can use it to provide intelligence – through analysis and benchmarking. The better our intelligence is – the more informed our decision-making is.

But apart from the benefits that more data brings, there’s another good thing that’s happening because of the camp. The open data community is exceptionally talented, but is quite thinly distributed across the globe. Open Data Camp is being used as a touch point for some of these groups and organisations – the camp itself is now looking likely to connect with the Open Knowledge Foundation hack in London, Bath:Hacked, Greater Manchester Data Synchronisation Programme Lean Startup weekend, Ebola Open Data Jam, and ODI nodes. The mechanics of these link-ups are yet to be worked out, but the fact that these connections are forming is very good for the open data movement.

How can you get involved?

All the tickets for Open Data Camp have now been sold (or rather allocated – it’s a free event). I will blog about the event once it has happened, with outcomes, outputs, challenges, etc. We (the campmakers) will be tweeting in the run up to the event, and during the event itself, using the hashtag #ODcamp. All attendees will also be asked to tweet during the event. We are also looking into ways that we can livestream sessions – more details of that will be available on the website.

Finally – if the camp is a success, we’ll probably look to make it an annual feature. If so I’ll do my best to drag the next one up North. Don’t be afraid to get tickets and come along!

Coming Soon: Open Data Camp UK

Just over a week ago we held the latest in a series of (invitation-only) “Informing Hampshire” events, aimed (mostly) at people working in the public sector in-and-around Hampshire.

Open Data: Fuel for Decision-Making

The theme this time was “Open Data: Fuel for Decision-Making”, and there was a marvellous line-up of speakers bringing their perspective on open data. I’ll blog separately about that on the ‘new’ Hampshire Hub (as Protohub will shortly be retiring).

Not many of the people who attend Informing Hampshire are active tweeters, so we don’t usually bother with a hashtag. This time, however – as it was open data-related – we did a bit of tweeting using the #InfoHants hashtag. It was surprisingly popular, and a few people expressed interest in future events.

A big Camping fan

I’m a big fan of unconferences, particularly the GovCamp movement, with its various spin-offs and variants like:

I’ve blogged a bunch of times about unconferences, so I won’t repeat that here.

Wot, no Open Data Camp?

Last Saturday – still fizzing from the talks the previous day – I posted a speculative tweet asking if there was any appetite to bring together lots of people to talk (and possibly make stuff) with open data. It seemed so obvious it was difficult to believe that there hadn’t already been an open data and unconference mash-up (see what I did there?)

@ODCamp (UK) is born

Despite it being Saturday lunchtime, loads of people replied, many offering to help. Later the same afternoon, Sasha Taylor created a Twitter account @ODCamp, giving us an initial focal point.

James Cattell pitched in suggesting we get a Trello Board going to manage activities, and Ben Proctor pointed out that February 21st 2015 just happens to be International Open Data Day...

On Monday evening we – Sasha Taylor, James Cattell, Giuseppe Sollazzo – held a small Google Hangout to pool ideas.

We held another hangout on Wednesday with a larger group: @MartinHowitt,@drsiant, @NorthernJamie, @Jargonautical, @HendrikG, @Sasha_Taylor@NeilFord, @jaCattell.

A plan coming together

Over the next few days several potential sponsors** got in touch, and we began to look at potential venues in a bit more detail. Realistically it’ll take a few weeks to sort everything out and confirm details, but it’s really looking like Open Data Camp will happen, probably in February (hopefully the weekend of 21/22 Feb).

There will be a web site soon, and we’ll*** keep you posted with progress.


  • I confess to bias on this one, as I’m one of the organisers, along with Sasha Taylor

** We need more sponsors to help the event go with a bang, so please get in touch if you’re interested

*** I keep hearing talk about the need to break down barriers, work in partnership, collaborate more etc. The people involved in organising Open Data Camp are from across the UK (furthest North so far = Manchester, furthest South = Devon), from various sectors (Central Gov, Academia, Emergency Services, Local Gov, and Private Sector). All are volunteers, working in their own time.