An Open Data Day Out

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.


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.

When we got to Cardiff we took a quick look on Google Maps and decided that we’d rather grab a taxi to the Pierhead Building so as to be on time.

During the event I attended Ben Proctor’s Open Data 101 session, where one of the attendee’s asked the excellent question “How is open data going to improve my life”. I think I missed a bit of an open goal in not answering “Oh, but it already is” and instead I spoke about possible, and rather vague, future improvements. Ben was able to give examples of open data usage in emergency response.

On the way back me and Dan had a discussion about whether we were just saying the same things we were saying five years ago about open data and social media use in local government.

Today I have written up this blog post, using Wikipedia as an authoritative source for a number of the links in my blog post. Above I’ve been able to identify a number of online resources than made my life better on Saturday, all of which use “Open data and content can be freely used, modified, and shared by anyone for any purpose” [the Open Definition] but that I dismally failed to mention in the workshop session.

I’m giving myself One Star for open data promotional activities on Saturday, with a strong “Must Do Better”.

I don’t think I’m alone in being terrible at explaining open data and where its benefits are already being enjoyed. I think that, as a rule, we tend to focus too much on the problems and are bad at acknowledging the great progress that has already being made. Or, as my friend so succinctly put it, “Open Data? Your PR is shit.”



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *