Demonstrating the value of open data – GP Pressure Map

Screenshot 2015-04-08 12.46.43I was really pleased to see GP Pressure Map featured on the BBC’s South Today programme on 31st March.

GP Pressure Map – part of the Open City Data Platform – was one of the “highs” I mentioned in my final post on the Hampshire Hub: Leaving on a high.

The utility, created by Leo Valberg and Nick Allott of Nquiringminds uses open data from a variety of sources – including the Hampshire Hub – to show which areas in Hampshire will see increases in demand for GP services between now and 2020.

Leo wrote about it in detail in his blog post Back story: the data journey in the production of the GP pressure map. This is just one example of the sort of functionality which will be delivered as part of the Open City Data Platform which Nquiringminds is leading.

Variations appeared on BBC TV, and also as an item on BBC Radio (which mentions Hampshire Hub):

BBC Radio interview:
[audioplayer file=”http://nquiringminds.com/files/2015/04/South_Today_-_31_03_2015.mp3?_=1″ bg=”ff7f1a” leftbg=”ff7f1a” lefticon=”294781″ track=”ff1b2c” tracker=”ffff00″ text=”000000″ righticon=”294781″ width=”500″ rightbg=”408080″ volslider=”ffffff” skip=”ffffff” titles=”BBC Radio interview about GP Pressure Map with Nick Allott of Nquiringminds”]

 

Posted in Data, Data Visualisation, Hampshire Hub, Open Data, Transparency and Decision Making | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Leaving on a high

This post was originally published on the Hampshire Hub on 30th March 2015.

Deep breath

I’m leaving Hampshire County Council, and am stepping down as lead for the Hampshire Hub.

There, I’ve said it.

Looking back

I wrote my first post Hampshire Hub (Thoughts on What a Hampshire Hub might be) in February 2012. In those days, HH was a tiny ‘thinking aloud’ web site I’d cobbled together using WordPress (which is what I was using for my own blog).

A few months later, a few of us in the Research and Intelligence team at Hampshire County Council put a business case together, asking the Council to stump up the cash to fund a project to create a local information system for Hampshire.

Local information systems are nothing new, and there had been a previous attempt in Hampshire a few years earlier which had grand ambitions, but didn’t make it for various reasons including technological limitations and lack of partner buy-in.

We spent some time studying the previous project in an attempt to learn from the past, and surveyed all the other local information systems we could find in the U.K. We were pretty pleased with a response rate of nearly 50%, and used the results to help inform our own Hampshire Hub business case July 2012.

Build it and they will come

We (the County Council) knew other organisations would be interested, but but didn’t think it was realistic to ask potential partners for money in advance, so we proposed that the County stump up all (approx £100k over several years) of the funding to get something up and running. The Council’s corporate management team agreed, and we set about approaching potential partners.

Building the Hub

We built some functionality into the ‘thinking aloud’ site to the extent that we were able to refer to it as a ‘prototype’ without anyone sniggering. We began publishing open data, both locally sourced and also national data that applied to Hampshire (using data packs supplied by OCSI).  We also built a broad partnership, with representatives of 20+ organisationsregularly participating in meetings of the strategic partnership board.

‘Interim’

By 2013 we had built sufficient functionality  – and published enough open data – that we started calling the system the ‘interim’ Hampshire Hub. We didn’t pretend it was a ‘proper’ data store, however, and began exploring the market for possible technological solutions to help us deliver the vision for the Hampshire Hub. My clumsy attempt to represent that vision is shown below.

hampshire-hub-partner-diagram

Five stars

In 2014 we appointed linked data specialists Swirrl to help deliver the Hampshire Hub vision, and they’ve given us a superb data store, built on 5 star linked open data. Development isn’t fully complete, and there will be a succession of further improvements in the coming six months or so, as well as lots more lovely open data. There are also plans to link-up with others producing linked open data, such as the DCLG’s Open Data Communities.

We are the champions

In parallel to developing the Hampshire Hub, we’ve been engaging with others trying to do similar things across the UK. What started as a few of us chatting, has turned into a fully-fledged open data champions’ network. Hampshire is one of sixteen authorities identified by the Cabinet Office as leaders and exemplars of local open data, and this was acknowledged by Leader of Hampshire County Council during Cabinet.

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, hosted a meeting for council leaders and senior executives of the sixteen local authorities to recognise the work done to-date.  In his speech at the Open Data Champions event on 24th March 2015, Francis Maude said:

Since the very beginning we have been keen that local authorities reap the benefits of open data and some of the most innovative work is now taking place at the local level.

Here today we have 16 local and regional authorities that have been identified as open data champions, whose work is truly trailblazing.

They are setting the standards in open data and transparency by putting data back into the hands of citizens to create opportunities for innovation, economic growth, better public services and new levels of accountability. They are recognising the fundamental role that data and digital will play in the local authority of the future, and are putting it at the forefront of public service transformation.

BlueLight Camping

 

BlueLightCamp returns 6-7th June

BlueLightCamp returns 6-7th June

We’re currently planning the next BlueLightCamp, which will be the weekend of 6-7th June, hosted in Birmingham by West Midlands Fire Service.I’m one of the organisers of BlueLightCamp – an annual unconference and open data hack for the emergency services community. In May 2014 we brought BlueLightCamp to Hampshire, which helped bring about a little bit of engineered serendipity, including a ground-breaking initiative which brings predictive analytics to the open data and emergency services community in the UK, and a really neat utility @3dayfloodwhich automatically tweets Environment Agency flood warnings for the next three days.

Open Data Camping

ODCamp Open Addresses

One of many outputs from Open Data Camp

I have to admit, there was more talk than ‘making of stuff’ with open data, but some of that talk was fantastic, and – rather than being a mutual back-slapping event – helped overcome real-life problems. There are lots of blog posts about that on the Open Data Camp home page.What started with a speculative tweet at the end of October 2014 turned into a (UK) first ever Open Data Camp, which was held in February 2015. Over 150 people gathered in Winchester over a weekend to talk and do neat stuff with open data.

We’re now starting to plan the next one which will besomewhere in the North of England, in around October 2015. Prior to that, Open Data Camp will be dropping-in to BlueLightCamp in June. See Jamie Whyte’s blog post for more about all of that.

It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it

 

GP Pressure Map (click to launch)

GP Pressure Map (click to launch)

One of the things which really excites me about the Hampshire Hub is that people are treating it like it’s a public resource (clue: it is). If you’ve not looked before, take a look at the initiatives currently under way. The majority have been started by people OUTSIDE of the Hampshire Hub partnership. Sure, we’re collaborating with and supporting them, but much of the energy and drive is coming from outside.

WUDoWUD data on the Hartree Visualisation Screen

WUDoWUD data on the Hartree Visualisation Screen

We’re also helping people to stay in their own homes for longer,  breaking new ground predicting weather-related emergency blackspots, and using open data to identify those GP surgeries who will be under the most pressure due to increases in demand .Traditionally, very few people get excited about open data, but some of these initiatives are really quite, er, sexy: there’s 3D visualisation, (not) Rocket Science, and crowdsourcing.

Several of the companies who have instigated new initiatives using the Hampshire Hub are now collaborating with each other – if it hadn’t been for the Hub, they might never have met.

Onwards and upwards

My own time leading the Hampshire Hub is coming to an end, and I’m sad to be leaving. That said, I’m proud of the progress we’ve made, and am really excited that there’s so much momentum. I’m handing over the leadership to my friend and colleague Warwick Currie, who I’m confident will ensure the Hub continues to thrive.

I haven’t quite decided what I’m doing next personally, but I’m in no doubt that it’ll be something in the digital / open data space. I’ll undoubtedly continue to use open data, and Hampshire Hub, just from a different perspective. I wish Hampshire Hub well, and all who sail in her.

Posted in Hampshire, Hampshire Hub, Local Information System, Open Data, Protohub, Transparency and Decision Making | Tagged | 4 Comments

If you open stuff up, good stuff happens

This is a slightly edited version of a post originally published on DATA.GOV.UK

Open Data Camp as featured on DATA.GOV.UK

Open Data Camp features on the front page of DATA.GOV.UK

I rather like the phrase: “Engineering Serendipity” which – as I choose to interpret it – means something like ‘creating conditions which maximise the chances of good stuff happening’. If you’re interested in a fuller discussion of Engineering Serendipity, there’s the excellent article written by Greg Lindsay over on Aspen Ideas.

I’ll come back to engineering serendipity a bit later. Please bear with me in the meantime, however, as I veer off-course to talk briefly about TV chefs.

Don’t watch, just cook

I love good food, and also enjoy cooking, but I never watch cookery programmes on television. I totally ‘get’ why people find the genre entertaining and informative, it just doesn’t do-it for me personally. My view is: if I have enough time to watch someone else cooking, then I might as well spend the time preparing a meal.

TV Chefery

When I say I “never” watch cookery programmes, it isn’t strictly true – I did watch some TV chefery a couple of weeks ago, as an episode of the “Hairy Bikers” was on in the background during a family get-together. In this particular episode – filmed in Bangkok during a recent tour of Asia – the Hairy Bikers were seeking the perfect recipe for Thai Green Curry.

Big break

They visited Aunty Daeng, a self-taught cook with an international reputation. Apparently, Aunty’s big break came when she prepared a meal for a royal visit to the government department where she was working at the time. The royals were so impressed, they invited her to become their private chef.  Had the royals not had the opportunity to taste Aunty Daeng’s food, she might still be working in a government department.

For all I know, Aunty Daeng’s old job may have been hugely worthwhile, and I’m not knocking working in a government department. My point is that a set of circumstances were created which led to Aunty Daeng’s career taking off.

What’s this got to do with Open Data?

I’m glad you asked.

Several times recently, I’ve noticed a combination of ‘chance’ and open data leading to good things that weren’t anticipated by the publishers of the data. Here are a few examples:

Blue Lights and severe weather events

BluelightCamp is a free annual unconference and open data hack which brings together people with some sort of interest in emergency services. In previous years, BlueLightCamp has been linked with British APCO’s annual exhibition in Manchester, and in 2013 we introduced an open data hack element.

In 2014 we held BluelightCamp in Hampshire instead, which meant that, for the first time, BlueLightCamp ‘met’ Hampshire Hub. This led to the birth of a new initiative: WUDOWUD. I won’t go into the detail here, as there’s an article about it on British APCO’s web site, co-written with Chris Cooper of Know Now Information.

Food, pubs and bus stops

food hygiene pubs tweetLast November, we held the latest in a series of ‘Informing Hampshire’ events which are pitched at (mostly) people who help inform public service decision-making in-and-around Hampshire.

One of the presenters was Chris Gutteridge from the University of Southampton who mentioned during his presentation that he’d taken Food Hygiene Certificates open data (published by the Food Standards Agency), together with Public Transport open data, and presented it (along with lots of other useful stuff) on a map for students and staff.

That could be handy for anyone looking for a pub which serves food, and is near to a bus stop (for the correct bus to get home again later). From a public safety perspective, people finding decent pubs with good public transport links are probably less likely to be tempted to drink-and-drive. From a bus company perspective, that’s more bums on seats. From an open data publisher’s perspective, it’s positive proof that it’s worthwhile releasing useful data like Food Hygiene ratings, as they’re actually being used.

University of Southampton open data map screenshot

 Open data up in the air

st-catherinesIn 2014 we released aerial photography for the whole of the county of Hampshire. This includes high resolution imagery, together with height data, near infrared, and the routes flown.

As we were focusing on introducing the new Hampshire Hub, we didn’t have time or resources to provide a delivery mechanism for the aerial photography as a separate project, so we just made the data available under the Open Government Licence (OGL).

A couple of months ago we were approached out of the blue by the Geodata team at the University of Southampton who have obtained funding to create an online portal to let users explore and download 3D representations of the aerial open data. Geodata have obtained funding to do the development at no cost to the Hampshire Hub, and will make their site available to the public for free. In the words of Jason Sadler who leads the Geodata team: “If you open stuff up, good stuff happens.”

A fair wind

wind map screenshotThe next example isn’t Hampshire-specific, it’s global. I first heard about it during a presentation given at The Graphical Web, an event run by Alan Smith, who leads the Data Visualisation team at the Office for National Statistics (ONS). If you haven’t seen The Graphical Web before, I heartily recommend it, and all of the presentations were recorded and are available through the site.

Cameron Beccario gave a talk about The Wind Map: a ‘visualization of global weather conditions forecast by supercomputers updated every three hours’. Actually, it’s not ‘just’ that, and amongst other things includes ocean temperatures and waves, regularly updated. It’s a superb undertaking, and is the result of many hundreds of hours of effort.

The Wind Map is an excellent example of really good stuff happening when data is opened up. It wouldn’t have been possible had the data not been made freely available by the U.S. National Weather Service and others.

Open Data Camp – Engineering Serendipity

Ok, I confess, there’s a sub-plot here. Part of the reason for writing this post is to plug an event I’m co-organising. It’s Open Data Camp, which is in Winchester on the 21-22nd February 2015. Yes, that’s a weekend.

As far as I’m aware, it’s a UK-first, combining the ‘unconference’ format with a theme of open data. There will also be opportunities to ‘make stuff’ with open data over the weekend.

Tickets are being released in batches through Eventbrite. You’ll have to be quick, though, as they’re going fast.

Thank you sponsors

The organisers* are really grateful to Hampshire County Council for letting us use their fabulous HQ venue free of charge, and Matthew Buck of Drawnalism who donated the artwork and branding we’re using for the event.

Several others have offered their support and we’re following-up on the detail. We still seeking additional sponsors to help make the event go with a bang, so if you’re interested, please get in touch.

It’s a kinda magic

I’m convinced magic will take place at Open Data Camp, just like it does at other unconferences like UKGovCamp. Open Data Camp is open to the public, is free to attend, and spans all sectors. I’m hoping that new initiatives, ideas and collaborations will ‘pop-out’ from Open Data Camp – even though I’ve no idea what they might be. As event organisers we’re just trying to create the conditions which maximise the chances of good stuff happening.

Notes

  • There are a bunch of people on the organising team for Open Data Camp, ranging from as far North as Manchester, and as far south as Devon:

 

 

Posted in blogging, BluelightCamp, Open Data | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Hampshire Hub taking shape

hub-data-catalogue

Some of the themes included the new Hub

We’ve been working hard for the last few months to get the new Hampshire Hub data platform into shape.

There are three main strands of work at present:

  • adding new features to Swirrl’s PublishMyData platform
  • preparing an initial collection of linked data datasets
  • building the Area Profiles application

Facelift and overhaul

PublishMyData is getting both a facelift and an engineering overhaul, if that isn’t too mixed a metaphor.

We’ve been adding a range of user interface enhancements to improve data navigation and presentation – to make data easier to find and use.

Behind the scenes we’ve been rebuilding the data management code, to lay the foundations for more robust and flexible tools for site administrators to edit, check and publish data. The Hub will hold a large number of datasets from across the many organisations in the Hub partnership, so good tools for maintaining the collection are a priority.

Data packs as linked data

So far we have been preparing a large collection of statistical reference data in linked data form, based on ‘data packs’ provided by OCSI.

OCSI gathers and collates statistics from a large range of public sources and organises them in a convenient form for local authorities. Swirrl has been setting up data transformation pipelines to convert this data into the RDF Data Cube format, a W3C (the World Wide Web Consortium) standard for publishing statistical data as linked data. Once organised like this, it becomes easy to filter and query the data, providing a great starting point for flexible data selection and visualisation tools.

Planning

The other strand of data processing and loading has been around planning applications. Hampshire County Council has been working with the districts in Hampshire, the Local Government Association, the Local e-Government Standards Board and the Department for Communities and Local Government to establish a standard way for local authorities to share information on planning applications as open data. The data from an initial group of district councils is being prepared for loading to the Hub.

Area Profiles

And thirdly, we have started development of an Area Profiles application, that will present a selection of data on the districts, wards and parishes across the Hub partnership, giving a visual overview of the population, economy, health, housing and education in each area.

Lots done, lots still to do

There’s a lot of hard work still to do, but with internal prototypes up and running, the project team is very enthusiastic about how it’s going to turn out. We should be ready to start sharing a public prototype soon.

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The Business Case for Open Data

Martin Tisné, UK Policy Director for Omidyar Network, and Nicholas Gruen, CEO of Lateral Economics have published a new report Open for Business: How Open Data Can Help Achieve the G20 Growth Target

The report considers the potential for open data, and provides an economic estimate of its value.

You can preview and download the report below, and more information is available on the Omidyar Network website.

[gview file=”http://www.omidyar.com/sites/default/files/file_archive/insights/ON%20Report_061114_FNL.pdf”]
Posted in Business, Data, Economy, Open Data, Report, Research, Socio-Economic, Transparency and Decision Making | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Data sharing between public bodies

In autumn of last year, the Law Commission launched its Consultation into data sharing between public bodies. If you haven’t read it before, you can preview and download the document at the end of this post.

Scoping exercise

Law Commission

Unlike other consultations, this one was a scoping exercise, aiming to investigate ‘the root causes of the reported obstacles to data sharing between public bodies.’

Collection of personal data, and transfer of such data from one public sector body to another, within a public sector body, or to the private sector can be of fundamental importance to the successful delivery of public services, the identification of risk, and to the development of innovative digital products that use amalgamated anonymised data.  In healthcare and safeguarding fields, for instance, data sharing can be vital for monitoring quality, detecting abuses and for research purposes.

Low public acceptance

Yet, as identified by the Law Commission, ‘a low public acceptance of data sharing and a low level of trust in the way it is undertaken by public services, along with negative media coverage’ may create hindrances to sharing.

Review after review continues to criticise the lack of robustness in data sharing arrangements between public bodies.  To take one example, the Serious Case Review into the abuse committed against vulnerable adults at the Winterbourne View Care Home noted that drawing together all the information held by various public bodies and by the private owner of the home, together with complaints from patients and parents, would have identified the risks to which patients at Winterbourne View were subject.

Data sharing seminar

On 1st July, the Centre for Information Rights at the University of Winchester will be hosting a seminar focussing on the results of the Law Commission’s data sharing consultation.

Centre for Information Rights data sharingPublic Law Commissioner, Nicholas Paines QC will be speaking about the Commission’s findings and the possibilities for reform, and there will be an opportunity for questions and discussion with Nicholas and members of the Law Commission public law team.

Who should attend?

This seminar will be of particular interest to public sector organisations, private sector organisations that work with the public sector, health and social care professionals, lawyers, digital innovators and information professionals.

The event is free but booking is essential: to book please click here.  Registration and refreshments start at 3.30pm.

 Register

This event is accredited under the Solicitors Regulation Authority CPD scheme: Code FKF/DLUW

Marion Oswald, Head of the Centre for Information Rights, University of Winchester

marion.oswald@winchester.ac.uk

@_UoWCIR

[gview file=”http://lawcommission.justice.gov.uk/docs/cp214_data-sharing.pdf”]
Posted in Data, Data sharing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Ghost writing, hubs, and autoawesome

Screenshot from Ghost Writing BlogI’ve been blogging off-and-on for a few years. My first post, in December 2011, was on WordPress.com. I then briefly tried Tumblr, before settling on this self-hosted WordPress site. It gave me the flexibility I wanted, and tied in quite nicely with projects like BlueLightCamp which also uses WordPress for its web site.

The Day job

As part of my day job I’m leading the Hampshire Hub project on behalf of twenty or so partners. We developed the original ‘thinking aloud’ site using WordPress and have progressed through ‘prototype’ to what we’re currently referring to as ‘interim’.

Whizzy new data store

We just appointed Swirrl to deliver the next phase which will involve a whizzy new data store built on linked data. As part of the move to the new platform it’s possible we’ll be using a different blogging product. Whilst not decided for certain yet, it’s looking likely that’ll be Ghost. If you’ve not heard of Ghost before, it’s an open source software project which, according to its web site, is:

Free to use, free to modify, free to share, free to redistribute. You can do anything you like with the software, without legal restriction. When you download a copy of Ghost, you own it. It’s completely yours.

This all sounds jolly good, and very much in line with Hampshire Hub’s principles of openness and re-use. Besides which, I’m enjoying learning something new.

Markdown

Screenshot 2014-05-26 14.53.43Ghost uses Markdown which I haven’t really used before. My first impression was that it’s not as intuitive as WordPress, but I’ve actually warmed to it quite quickly. There are loads of cheat sheets like the example on the right, shared by Designshack, which are really handy. If I give up the Ghost (sorry) then I can simply copy my posts back in to WordPress, which also supports Markdown (via a plug-in).

Auto-backup

My Ghostly experiment coincides with me enabling Auto-Backup on Google Plus. Auto-Backup is automatically saving a copy of all my photos – on all my connected devices – to folders on Google Plus.

Autoawesome

Google Plus also has a feature called “autoawesome” which – amongst other things – attempts to stitch together photos it recognises as being part of a sequence.  Viewed individually ‘autoawesomes’ can be quite impressive. Viewed en-masse they can be incredibly distracting, as you can see from this small selection in the video below.

I’m therefore including just one example at the end of this post.

Ghost writing

If you’re interested in seeing some of my Ghost written ‘auto-awesomed’ wildlife pics, they’re over on my Ghost blog. Fox mouthing

 

Posted in blogging, BluelightCamp, Hampshire, weekly blog club | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hampshire publishes Aerial Photography as open data (finally!)

In my previous post about aerial photography, I explained that our aerial photography provider, Blom Aerofilm, flew the whole of Hampshire over the Summer of 2013 and captured high resolution imagery and data.

Last time, I said that the Hampshire Hub Partnership intends to share a re-sampled version of the imagery and data as open data. We had hoped it would be available in time for Christmas. You may have noticed that hasn’t happened – yet.

Processing was completed before the end of the year, but close inspection by Blom during post-production checks identified some problems with quality, and processing was started again from the beginning.

Sorry for the delay

Aerial Photo of Lymington

Aerial Photo of Lymington

The bottom-line is that it took longer than we’d expected and, whilst the top quality imagery and data was released to Hampshire Hub local authority partners in time for Christmas, the open data version wasn’t produced until 2014.

Came in handy

Fortunately, high resolution imagery was available when Hampshire was hit by flooding a couple of months ago, and it came in very handy. In the words of a colleague from New Forest District Council:

the new imagery played an important role in the recent storm that hit Lymington and Keyhaven.The emergency control rom became aware that a substation in Lymington was under threat of flooding and it would need to be sandbagged – but they weren’t too sure of its exact location.

The substation didn’t appear on either the OS base maps or the 2005 imagery, so the new images were the only means to locate it and be able to calculate the number of sandbags that would need to be dispatched…

Opendata now available

I’m really pleased to say that Hampshire’s aerial open data is now available to download. All the imagery, height and near infrared data is available under the Open Government Licence (OGL), which basically means you can do what you like with it, including using it to make money.

For the time being, we’re just making it available to download via Hampshire County Council’s FTP site. We haven’t yet updated our open data pages (or linked to it from data.gov.uk), but will do shortly. We also haven’t yet attempted to ‘present’ it in any way e.g. on a map. It’s on our to-do list, but we haven’t had time to produce it yet.

How do I get hold of the data?

I’m glad you asked. Basically, before you begin, you’ll need an FTP client and the following credentials:

Host www.hants.gov.uk
User Name anonymous
Password leave empty
Port leave empty

If you don’t have an FTP client, you can point your browser at our data by typing the following in on your browser window: ftp://www.hants.gov.uk

Having entered the credentials above, hopefully you’ll then see a folder structure, and all our aerial photography and height data is within a folder called ‘Hampshire’.

We do intend to make data available in different ways, and will of course be including it in the new Hampshire Hub data store (just not yet), but hopefully this basic access will be of some use in the short term

Just in time for BlueLightCamp

01-ukBlc14-Poster_print_quality-1We’ve been intending to publish for a while, but it started getting really urgent, as there’s an open data hack this weekend as part of BlueLightCamp, which we’re proud to be associated with.

If you haven’t heard of BlueLightCamp before, it’s an annual event for people who work in – or who are interested in – emergency services. It’s a great occasion*, with lots of people who are passionate about public services getting together to do their bit to help make the world a better place.

There’s a networking event on Saturday (called an ‘unconference’), and the hack (‘Hackathon’) is on Sunday. There’s lots of information about it over on the BlueLightCamp web site.

As I write this, there are still a few places available, and you can register here.

What can you create with our data?

We really hope you find our open data useful, and we’d love to hear from you if you’re using it to create something of your own. Please leave a comment at the end of this post, or use the contact form,  send us a tweet  or use any other method you fancy.

 Thanks

That’s it for this post. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading.

  • I confess, I’m biased, as I’m one of the organisers

 Picture credit

BlueLightCamp Flyer thanks to Matt Buck of Drawnalism

 

Posted in Data, Environment, Flood, Maps, Open Data, Rivers | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Next steps for the Hampshire Hub

The story so far

In my previous post I explained that the Hampshire Hub has been through a few changes, starting life as a ‘thinking aloud’ web site, then regenerating as a ‘prototype’, and most recently what we’ve been calling ‘interim’.

Up to this point we’ve been developing the site ourselves using WordPress, with a bit of help and advice from friends. We’ve tried not to be precious about it being ‘our’ design, and we’re doing our best to incorporate your feedback and suggestions along the way.

Hampshire Hub LOGOWe have shared ‘some’ open data so far, mostly as Excel workbooks based on data packs from OCSI, together with some spatial and other data from the councils, but we’ve never pretended it was a ‘proper’ data store – we recognise that’s not where our strengths lie.

Regeneration: the ‘strategic’ Hampshire Hub

Towards the end of 2013 – having thought carefully about our requirements we went in to ‘procurement mode’ to obtain a really good, versatile, data store. I previously shared the questionnaire which informed potential suppliers, and helped us work out who to invite to formally submit a tender.

We then drew up a detailed Invitation to Tender (ITT) which we shared with those suppliers who had previously qualified to bid. That document is commercially sensitive, so I can’t share it here. Basically, we were looking for a platform that lets us to share lots of data (and other content), and lets you get at the data in various ways, but also enables us to adapt as we go along to meet changing needs.

We received several proposals – all of which were very good in their own right – which our evaluation team reviewed against the criteria set out in the Tender.

We’ve decided!

Despite strong competition, there was a clear winner, and I’m really pleased to say that we’re appointing Swirrl – the linked data specialists – to provide the strategic Hampshire Hub, using their PublishMyData platform. Screenshot 2014-05-05 14.53.31.png

You might have seen some of Swirrl’s existing work over on the DCLG’s Open Data Communities web site, where they’ve created various applications like the Local Authority Dashboard (pictured). Quite a few other applications have been created using data published by the DCLG, with some great examples on Steve Peters’ Open Data Blog.

Building the strategic hub

Swirrl already has an amazing platform, providing a solid foundation on which to build the new Hampshire Hub. Swirrl is also creating a range of new functionality specifically for Hampshire, which will be delivered in the coming months.

Onwards and upwards

This is the first of many posts telling you about the new Hampshire Hub. We intend to continue in the same vein as before, sharing ideas and early versions of new functionality, and asking for your feedback.

Up next

In the next post about the strategic Hub, Bill Roberts of Swirrl will tell you a bit more about PublishMyData, and how Swirrl will be working with the Hampshire Hub project team to deliver the new iteration of the Hampshire Hub.

 

Picture credits

  1. Much better quality version of the Hampshire Hub logo, thanks to Matt Buck of Drawnalism
  2. Screenshot from the Local Authority Dashboard, courtesy of Open Data Communities
Posted in Data, Hampshire Hub, Local Information System, Open Data, Partnership Working, Transparency and Decision Making | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Drones – opportunity or threat?

Once the purview of the military and spies, ‘unmanned aerial vehicles’ (‘Drones’), are increasingly common.
NEW blc aerial

Just hot air?

A few months ago the giant online retailer Amazon announced its intention to deliver packages within 30 minutes of customers placing an order. Despite widespread incredulity, Amazon backed this up with footage from test flights, and still assures customers in the US that they can expect commercial deliveries some time in 2015.

Dronalism

In February I attended the excellent News: Rewired conference where, amongst other things, I learnt that the term ‘dronalism’ has already entered the vocabulary. If you’ve not heard of it before, ‘dronalism’ refers to journalists using drones to report from situations difficult or dangerous for people. You’ve probably already seen footage but, if not, here are a couple of examples:

Own Drone

If you’re prepared to fork out several hundred quid, you can own your own drone. For less than £300 you can have a drone that can ascend to 100m, record and live-stream high definition footage to your smart phone, and even return home automatically. I’m referring to the AR Drone 2.0 here from Parrot, but there are other manufacturers and options available.

Opportunities

I’m interested in technology and how it can be exploited for good. There are loads of potential benefits, some which are obvious, and others which are yet to be identified. A few of the more obvious public service uses include:

  • Search and rescue
  • Policing – gathering evidence
  • Quickly assessing a potentially dangerous situation before sending people to the scene
  • Low cost ‘eye in the sky’ to monitor traffic congestion and problems like flooding
  • Low cost routine aerial imagery
  • They’re fun!

Drones are getting smaller, cheaper and faster. Some come with programming interfaces, so if you’ve got programming skills you can tailor them to do exactly what you want.

Threats

I’m worried that we might be entering a period when the skies fill up with tiny hi-tech drones. This could have all sorts of consequences which I don’t think we’ve thought through – if we’re not careful, this could be the beginning of a nightmare.

Right now you can buy a drone that will fit in the palm of your hand. How long before that reduces to the size of a mosquito? A few concerns that spring to mind include:

  • Privacy – no escape from prying eyes
  • Data protection – peering over your virtual shoulder as you type passwords
  • Personal safety – drones falling out of the sky
  • Danger to each other and other air traffic
  • Noise – individually not too noisy, but that could be said of the car
  • Pollution (think balloon release, but potentially much worse)

BlueLightCamp session pitch?

BlueLightCamp 2014Is it just me? Am I alone in having mixed opinions about drones?

I’d really like to hear what you think. Feel free to comment at the end of this post, or join the discussion in BlueLightCamp’s Google Group, or join us at BlueLightCamp on 10/11th May in Southampton – it’s free to attend and you can register here.

Picture credit

  • BlueLightCamp Logo and hashtag: Matt Buck of Drawnalism
Posted in blogging, BluelightCamp, Technology, Unconference | Tagged , , | 19 Comments