OpenDataSoft- Demo and Discussion

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19 Jan, 18 by Matthew Davenport

A big thanks to everyone who participated in our Open Data Platform demo and discussion event at City Hall this week. It was a brilliant turn out and great to see a diverse mix of producers, coders, journalists, academics, creatives and all round tech and data enthusiasts coming together to share in our collective interest in data and the Bristol community. It’s really exciting and encouraging to see how enthusiastic people are about joining forces to support Open Data for Bristol.

ODI Node Bristol and City Innovation Team hosted a lively demo and debate event which was an opportunity to find out more about the technology Bristol City Council are utilising to publish open data. We welcomed Philippe and Fanny from OpenDataSoft who showed how this flexible and dynamic platform has a lot to offer in terms of combining datasets within the platform itself, visualising data and filtering to uncover and deepen our connection with open data. The range of rich features enables users to create bespoke project dashboards and reuse visualisations as communication tools to share important metrics and tell your story.

As well as learning more about OpenDataSoft, this was an opportunity for us all to explore a more collaborative way of working together to co-produce the approach to developing and configuring the platform. Also to engage in a discussion around progress on data governance, platform configuration and plans for publishing more open data and access to new datasets.

We broke into two groups, one to discuss the more technical aspects to make best use of the platform and second group looking at what data we would all collectively like to see published to the platform and frameworks for how we can engage around city challenges like housing, transport, energy and sustainability. We debated questions like what data is already available, and what is already being used? Is the data any good? Examples of success and failure? What data would you like to see released? Who else needs to be involved? How can we collaborate?

There were some strong themes that emerged from our discussion and requests from each group for further datasets:

  • Live data is important- data like car park occupancy, bus service updates and live air quality
  • The quality and stability of data is paramount- this will help to manage expectations
  • Continuity and commitment to updates- as a potential meta data field
  • Data ethics- what data is ethically right to publish?
  • City boundaries- are they a limitation to data?
  • Dogfooding- building services around data
  • Futureproofing- how can we ensure services can be built for voice platforms like Amazon Alexa?
  • Library provision- are library computers are up to the task of exploring our modern data platforms?

There were some strong views about other datasets that could be unlocked like refuse and waste data; accident hotspots; planning applications; average house rent prices; new sensor data from projects like Bristol is Open and datasets to support alternative transport. There was also request to look at other Bristol City Council initiatives like pinpoint data, contracts and tenders and crime analytics. All of which make a solid base for investigation and the potential of providing aggregated, anonymised datasets for the open data platform.

All in all, this was a great event and I want to extend my thanks to all for contributing to development at this crucial point. We’re currently undertaking a process internally at Bristol City Council on platform governance to ensure we have process in place for regular updates and publishing of data and I’m working hard as the Open Data Project Manager to advocate for new data to be unlocked and prepared for consumption. The insight gathered from this event will no doubt help to encourage more data events for 2018.

Special thanks to ODI Node Bristol, especially Rebecca Strickland and Katherine Rooney for their facilitation and event organising skills. For more Open Data events in Bristol please join and watch this space on the Bristol Open Data Meetup group.

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