Open Data Manchester Presentation 2014/07/29 – Trafford Innovation and Intelligence Lab

I was asked if would like to talk about the nascent Innovation and Intelligence Lab at July’s edition of Open Data Manchester. Obviously, I jumped at the chance. It was to be a local authority special, with John Gibbons from Salford also on the bill – talking about INSPIRE (which Salford do very well)

At the meetup there were approximately 15 people, including:

  • Representatives from charities (NSPCC, Children’s Society, GMCVO)
  • Government Digital Services standards people
  • Manchester data people

Most people fitted into more than one of these.

I’ve tried to capture the gist of what I said, and what the room said as I went through the slides, below.

Slide 1

Trafford Innovation and Intelligence Lab
Slide 1 – Introduction

Here I introduced myself as Jamie Whyte, Head of Trafford’s Innovation and Intelligence Lab, part of Trafford Council.

Slide 2

I used this slide to talk about how use of data in Trafford has evolved, including my role. I have worked for Trafford for 14 years (i think I said 12 at the meetup), in a variety of data roles:

  • Schools’ data analyst
  • Children’s Social Care data analyst
  • Schools, children’s social care and child health data manager
  • Data innovation (covering all council services)

I then compared the current Innovation and Intelligence Lab to the Playstation 3 – and that PS4 equates to bringing the other public sector organisations in Trafford into the team.

(I also had it explained to me that there are 5 controllers and only 4 Playstation because the PS1 had two versions of controller – first without analogue sticks, then second with)

Slide 3

Now we start to get into the lab itself. I spoke about the fact that we are part funded by Trafford Council, and that the Cabinet Office/Open Data User Group/Local Government Association part-fund us through the Release of Data Fund.

I also spoke about the fact that the lab will consist of some council data people, a javascript/html programmer-type, and then data and/or data people from other organisations in Trafford – such as Housing association, police, leisure, CCG, Public Health etc.

I talked about the fact that we would be combining data with emerging technologies, and other Digital Social Innovation methods to radically improve the way we work. Methods such as crowdmapping/crowdsourcing, collaborative workspaces, data – open/linked, and others (read more about that on Nesta’s blog, and my response.

I also emphasised the fact that the Lab would be totally transparent in the way that it operates – blogging and tweeting as we go along, and releasing any data that we use as open data, where possible.

Slide 4

Map of blue plaques in Trafford
Blue Plaques as open data, and mapped

This is the first example of an open dataset released by the Innovation Lab. To find out more about it, you can read a blog post I wrote about it.

Discussion in the room picked up on the fact that following publication of the data, we were notified by members of the public about two further plaques that we didn’t have mapped, and weren’t on the list that is published on the Council website (Paul Young and Benny Rothman). This is almost a miniature example of how opening data can help organisations sort their own data out.

This data and report has been shared with English Heritage and Open Plaques.

Slide 5

This was all about the project with Gorgeous Gorse Hill – to combine their community planting with some sort of data visualisation with flowers. See this post for more info.

Slide 6

This slide looked at some of the things we’re doing to try and make data more real to people who are making decisions about services. The data shows children who have had their height and weight recorded as part of the National Child Measurement Programme.

We wanted to look at different ways of visualising data, and we think that this 3 rotating model would go some way to making the data more real for our public health analyst, and other colleagues in public health.

It was at this point that i mentioned I was thinking about the possibility of using Oculus Rift and VR technology to take this principle to the next level, by allowing people to climb into charts or maps , and walk around, picking out points and data items at will. We are pretty far off this though, I think…

Lot’s of discussion at this point around information sharing, where we have the technology to match this data to other data sets, but Information Governance rules prevent us from doing so.

Slide 7

Drawing to a close, i touched on some of the things that we’ll be working on. 360 Giving, which is a means by which we’ll be publishing open data about the money that we give as grants to voluntary organisations through ou participatory budgets.

libraries is extremely interesting for us. We are hoping to base the lab in a library, and develop the collaborative space so that it is accessible for all people in Trafford. I also spoke to the Head of Libraries in Trafford about opening libraries data, on the morning of the ODM meetup, and she was totally up for it.

We are currently in the process of implementing a new customer relationship management system, and I am working with the project team to ensure data is open and accessible, as an open311 endpoint.

Lot of discussion here around libraries data, and the possibilities that it would bring.

Slide 8

My contact details, though I left off my email address (accidentally jamiedotwhyteattrafforddotgovdotuk) and my telephone number (on purpose).

I also issued a plea for anyone to get involved, who feels like they could work with us. I emphasised the fact that we are looking to work with staff in any public sector organisation who may have an idea, developers or SMEs who may want data, or to test an app with us, students, in particular those doing STEM subjects at Trafford College, and voluntary/charity organisations, who would benefit from data in terms of identifying areas of need, or support with evidencing bids for grant funding.

The point was also made that it would be good if we could get hold of charities’ data, to really give a different view of Trafford.

There was also a short discussion around whether we could create a sandbox environment, where we have a secure place where people can come and do stuff with anonymised data, but that can’t be released. There is definitely something in this, but we need to work with proper information governance professionals to make it work legally.

For everyone that was at the meetup, thanks for listening so intently, and for comments. If I’ve missed anything critical, or got anything wrong here, please let me know, and I can change it…


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