Category Archives: Uncategorized

Open data: Challenges and opportunities

I am co-producing an open data event on 15th July  with West Midlands Regional Observatory.

Open data: Challenges and opportunities

15th July 2010, 9:30am – 4:00pm

The Balcony Rooms, RegenWM, 4th Floor, Millennium Point, Curzon Street, Birmingham, B4 7XG

A programme of speakers who are opening up public sector information.

A chance for policy makers and web developers to talk about why and how to implement open data.

Policy: What principles should organisations apply in making public sector data available? Implementation: What formats should public bodies use to publish to the web?

The event is free to attend. More details and booking West Midlands Regional Observatory



Richard Wilson – Event Chair

West Midlands Quality Institute


Open data: Challenges and opportunities

Since holding posts at Cabinet Office within Strategy & Policy and the Information Taskforce, as well as working as a Policy Adviser at 10 Downing Street, Will Perrin has founded Talk About Local, a project to give people in their communities a powerful online voice. In this session, Will will give an overview on open data national policy, looking at recent developments along with the challenges and opportunities.

Will Perrin

Creator of Talk About Local


Opening up Ordnance Survey data

Gillian will detail how Ordnance Survey have responded to the call for open public data. Following changes on the use of OS derived data, she will give us a run through recent licensing changes to explain the legal guidelines of what OS data can and can’t be used for.

Gillian Horner

Ordnance Survey



A local perspective on opening up data

Chris Taggart runs Openly local, a website geared at making local government more transparent. Chris will pick up where Will left off, looking at how national policy translates to local government, as well as giving an overview of the OpenlyLocal website.

Chris Taggart

Openly local


Democratic engagement

Tim Davies is a social entrepreneur with extensive experience of youth participation and social media. He is studying  the impact of open data on democratic engagement at Oxford Internet Institute. Read an interview with Tim and further biography.

Tim Davies

Practical participation



Issues, examples and themes

Andrew Mackenzie co-produced this event with the Observatory. He is a researcher and consultant working at the intersection of policy, technology and innovation. He recently organised Mapitude, an event which explored open data and mapping.


Andrew Mackenzie



Opening Warwickshire’s data

Examples from Warwickshire showing how they are opening up Warwickshire County Council held data and why. Aside from the social benefits, Kate will also identify the potential cost savings and opportunities for service improvement resulting from opening up council data. See Hack Warwickshire competition.

Kate Sahota

Warwickshire County Council


Opening Walsall’s data

Dan will bring open data examples from Walsall, including the challenge of the £500 spending transparency requirement (where local government have to publish details of all spend over £500), as well as the 2010 election from Walsall’s perspective and whether or not to use Open source website platforms.

Dan Slee

Walsall Council


Opening Birmingham’s data

Recent and future open data examples from Digital Birmingham, the city’s strategic partnership helping to ensure that the benefits of digital technologies are available to all in the city.

Simon Whitehouse

Digital Birmingham


Opening Lichfield’s data

Stuart Harrison is webmaster at Lichfield District Council.

His pioneering work has established Lichfield as one of the leading exemplars of local open data. Lichfield council make it easy to access council services, report problems, view planning applications, find out what’s going on locally, have a say on local issues, and much more. Read Guardian article on Lichfield and Stuart

Stuart Harrison

Lichfield District Council




General Election



The Great British Economy Disaster by John Lanchester in the London Review of Books



Election diagram: deficit cuts compared by party  Datablog Information is Beautiful


5 Great Mapping Apps to Help You Track the UK General Election Resourceshelf



Vote Match is designed to help you with determining your voting preference for the UK General Election. Votematch

Find out about your MP


Election day

Tactical voting guide  based on latest Guardian /ICM poll. Find your constituency, work out where your vote can be most effective. Voting guide



Public transport layers on German open street map

Also covers UK, scroll.


PDF maps from #OSM: make your own TownGuide


Discussion on local data and open database license as used by Mappa-Mercia


Open Layers: free maps for the web V 2.9


Mapitude Birmingham #OSM workshop.

OpenStreetMap for web developers workshop day May 22nd Birmingham. Details, booking

Tickets sold out 30th April


Local democracy

Council decision-making is ‘more secretive today than ever’ – Roy Greenslade Guardian April 15th

Political Studies Association paper J Morrison: Spin, smoke-filled rooms, and the decline of council reporting by local newspapers download pdf


Hansard Society report Digital citizens & democratic engagement download pdf


Opening up local election data

“As well as the general election on May 6th, there are also a number of local council elections too. With this in mind it’s become clear that election data needs to be opened up, so as well as knowing what councillor sits on what committee, people can also find out when they were elected, how many votes they’ve received, as well as things like voter turnout.”



Jadu blog


10 new case studies of examples of good involvement by public bodies: Urban Forum


Google in April


Google Maps Navigation video UK

Google has enabled the turn-by-turn GPS navigation on all devices running Android version 1.6 or later


Out-law: Privacy commissioners collaborate on anti-Google action


Privacy watchdogs from 10 countries from around the world have written to Google to protest at those parts of its services that they believe “[betray] a disappointing disregard for fundamental privacy norms and law”.


The privacy commissioners have called on Google and any other organisation operating internationally to make sure that their services comply with the privacy laws in all the countries covered by a service.




If the Milky Way were a CD, then the edge of the *known* universe is 10 miles away, or 134,112 CDs

Imagine that our entire Milky Way galaxy were the size of a CD. On this scale, the nearest spiral galaxy, Andromeda, would be another CD about eight feet away.


The furthest galaxies we have ever seen, pictured in the Hubble Deep Field above, would be CDs about nine miles away. The edge of the observable Universe, the furthest we can possibly see, is only another mile beyond that.

How big is our universe?