Peekaboo

Being ‘open’ and more informal in arranging events gives many of us the impression that traditional power structures are also being broken down. While this may be true, to an extent, organisers of open space events are increasingly making attempts to be more actively inclusive.

Now, I do love a good unconference. The energy and enthusiasm of people being given the chance to swap ideas is enthusing in itself. There is an excitement in starting the day with no set agenda and deciding it amongst ourselves before we start. However, unconference organisers, with good reason, are increasingly looking at different ways to set the agenda so that more people feel comfortable taking part.Continue reading

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I previously wrote up my experiences when attending the AbreLatam and ConDatos conferences in San Juan, Costa Rica in August. One of the sessions I attended was the Open Contracting Partnership workshop, which was moderated by Juan Pane from Paraguay.

At the start of 2017, while I was travelling, I did a piece of work with the Open Contracting Partnership and so I have an interest in their current work in Latin America.

I recall it being an interesting discussion, with many issues, opportunities and projects that people raised and were involved in. At the end of the session I took the following photo of the worksheet that was produced, my apologies to the scribe as I don’t recall their name. Underneath the photo I have translated the text, as best I can. I’m happy to take suggestions for improvements in my translation.

There is also a write up of another OCP session at ConDatos on their blog

Open Contracting Partnership workshop at Abre Latam 2017

Open Contracting Partnership workshop at Abre Latam 2017

English Translation

Name of the session

Open ContractingContinue reading

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On Saturday I went to Cardiff with Dan Slee for Gov Camp Cymru, an unconference for government types in Wales.

On Friday night I looked up the different options for getting to New Street train station in Birmingham city centre. City Mapper gave me the expected times and calories burned for walking, cycling and driving. It also showed me a range of options for taking the bus.

Opendata

I had a few things to do on the way back in the evening and so I decided to take the car. I took a look on Parkopedia for the best car parks and on street parking close to the city centre. I ended up parking on the street in Digbeth and walking to New Street.

I met Dan at the station. He had checked the price of tickets using one of the many Split Ticketing sites that offer to find you cheaper fares than those that are on standard sites such as National Rail or The Trainline.Continue reading

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Last week I attended the AbreLatam and ConDatos events in San Jose, Costa Rica. It was the fifth edition of this regional conference on open data for Latin America and was held over three days at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design in central San Jose. What follows is a round up of the the days along with some of my impressions.

Day One – Abre Latam Unconference

The first day was an unconference event, with the agenda being decided by the participants at the start of the day. There was a sizeable proportion of attendees who were at their first unconference. The format went down well, with a number of people saying how much they enjoyed the more collaborative style both during the day and at the end of the event.

One difference to other unconferences I’ve attended was that, instead of asking people to come up and pitch their ideas for sessions at the front, we were all given three Post-It notes. We wrote down three topics, ideas or thoughts and stuck them on the giant blank agenda.

Collaborative Agenda at AbreLatam 2017

Collaborative Agenda at AbreLatam 2017

One of the topics of conversation that came up both on this day and subsequent ones was the need to pursue and prosecute laws where they already exist. For instance, in the first session I attended on privacy, a number of attendees said that their country had strong privacy laws but that they were often ignored with impunity by the authorities.

There was also a conference on human rights in San Jose last week and a lawyer attending that told me something similar, that in many cases in Latin America it is not that the law does not confer human rights, but that people’s access to exercising those rights are unequal.
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This summer Young Rewired State are bringing their hugely successful Festival Of Code back to Birmingham.

Young Rewired State | Festival of Code 2015

Young Rewired State | Festival of Code 2015

 

Happening over the week of 27th July to 2nd August, The Festival of Code brings together young developers, all of them under the age of 18. During the week they attend centres around the country and build web and mobile applications that attempt to solve real world problems, with each project using at least one piece of open government data.

Then, over the weekend, up to 2000 young people will descend upon Birmingham to present their projects and get feedback on how to take them further.Continue reading

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Back in June I had the pleasure of helping out at Interactivos Birmingham. This was a fortnight-long workshop for people to develop projects that used?new technologies such as Raspberry Pi and Arduino to make art. In particular, these were pieces of art that responded to the world and people around them. The workshop was hosted and supported by Midland Arts Centre and run in partnership by Birmingham City University, Sampad, the BBC and Medialab Prado.

Nearly all of the projects that took part were using free and open software, and were also making the code that they wrote openly available for other people to see, contribute to and reuse. There is a set of repositories on Github for anybody who is interested in getting into the technical details of the projects.

What I really enjoyed about the workshop was the energy and enthusiasm that all of the participants brought with them. At the start of the fortnight I sat down with some of the project leads who, quite frankly, scared me with the scale of the projects they were hoping to deliver. While not everybody achieved all?they set out to do, each project achieved?lots in the relatively short time scales they had.

rainingData

You can read all about the individual projects over at the Interactivos Birmingham website, which has loads of different content courtesy of Tim Wilson and BCU social media students.Continue reading

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This Saturday is Open Data Day.

A photograph of Chris Morris on the set of the Day today

The Day Today BBC ? 2014

Data describe the places where we live, work and play and it helps us to understand the world around us. You could be interested in local transport, health or education, our public services create data about all of them. Data can help you hold politicians to account, or it can tell you where the nearest public loo is.

In Birmingham we are holding an event at Birmingham City University where we are going to set up a West Midlands “Open DataStore In A Day”. The idea is quite simple. Over the day we will set up a website that can hold open datasets and publish what we can find to it.?You don’t have to be a technical whizz to take part. Enthusiasm and curiosity are enough to make it worth your while coming along.

We’ll spend the day finding and collecting the data that people are interested in and we’ll put it all together in one place online, in the West Midlands Open Datastore. Once we’ve done that, it makes it all a lot easier to do something useful with.

If somebody can’t find the data that they are interested in then we will help them to write a Freedom Of Information request to ask for it. When those are answered we will add them to the Open Datastore.

I’m really pleased that Data Unlocked, the co-operative venture that I’ve recently helped to co-found, are providing the website for people to work on during the day, and that we will continue supporting it afterwards. We’ve helped to organise the day along with Open Mercia and RnROrganisation.

In?Emer Coleman’s recent post about the City as a Platform?she says that she has seen quotes of up to ?200,000 for Data Platforms. We think that we can do a lot with some free open source software and the goodwill of people volunteering their time and skills.

We are using?Ckan?to host the West Midlands Open Datastore and are thankful to the Open Knowledge Foundation for providing this free, open source software for us to use.?Thanks also to Birmingham City University, who are providing us with a room in their sparky new offices at Parkside.

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This Wednesday Nesta are hosting the Pitch and Celebration Event for the Open Data Institute’s first challenge series, which focused on Crime and Justice. I’ll be going down to see which of the three finalists have won the grand prize of ?40,000 and to hear a little more about the next two challenge areas: Education and Energy & The Environment.

Open Data Institute - Challenge Series - Crime and Justice

Open Data Institute – Challenge Series – Crime and Justice

I had a really enjoyable time working as Series Lead on the Crime and Justice series and am really thankful for the opportunity to work with both Nesta and the Open Data Institute. I think we did a good job of attracting a range of entries and the shortlisting, although difficult, resulted in the strongest projects going forward to the final.Continue reading

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Bookings are open for people to attend the Crime and Justice Series hack weekend, known as the Creation and Innovation Weekend, which is being held at Nesta in London over the 12th-13th October. This is the competition weekend for the Crime and Justice Series part of the Open Data Challenge Series.

We’ve created a number of different tickets. People who want to participate can sign up for Individual Team Member tickets. This is for people who want to tackle one of the challenges set for the Crime and Justice Series, which are:

How can open data projects be constructed that achieve one of the following:

– increase community involvement with the criminal justice system?

– create further evidence for what are effective interventions for rehabilitation?

– address the rise in personal crime?Continue reading

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I’ve recently taken on a really interesting role working with the Open Data Institute. Over the next nine months I’ll be the series lead for their first Immersion Programme where we will be working with developers, data owners within and outside government and other interested parties to help establish some substantial and sustainable open data projects. This first programme has the theme of Crime and Justice.

Last Wednesday, 20th March, we kicked off with a day long session at the Open Data Institute where we discussed what three challenges should be set for participants in the programme. The day was arranged and co-hosted by Olivia Burnam from the ODI, who will continue supporting the programme when she returns to the Cabinet Office next month.

Open Data Institute logo

Open Data Institute logo

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