The West Midlands Open Data Forum is an idea that has been initiated by Digital Birmingham. It has a mission
“To promote the release, re-use and integration of open data to benefit communities, businesses and public services in the West Midlands area.”
I was asked to join its steering group a few months ago and have attended three of its meetings so far. Here we have mostly been discussing the Terms of Reference for the group, commenting upon proposals for a Birmingham Open Data Platform and planning how the current steering group will support the new forum to host quarterly events that “bring together developer, activist, public authority, university, third sector and business communities over open data”
Photo Credit: suzannelong via Compfight cc
When the Cabinet Office released its white paper on open data last month I asked this question:
So, can I FOI Service Birmingham now?
This was because, while the Open Data white paper can be viewed as a continuation of policies which develop our right to open data, we are also going through a period where the organisations which provide public services are being dispersed, often out of the public sector itself.
Whether it is privately owned health providers or social enterprises delivering local authority contracts, more and more of the organisations which hold and create the data produced in the course of public services are exempt from Freedom of Information legislation.Continue reading