Hooray! It’s the Trafford Intelligence and Innovation Lab!

Cow jumping over moon

Here at InfoTrafford towers we are absolutely over the moon at the news that we’ve been awarded some money from the Cabinet Office and ODUG’s Release of Data Fund, to support a really exciting project that we’ve been planning.

Building on the success of InfoTrafford, we’re looking to develop a Partnership Innovation and Intelligence Lab, which will take the principles by which we developed InfoTrafford, and use them to bring together a greater range of datasets from our partners.

Accompanying these datasets will be the people from the respective organisations who understand the data – where it comes from, how to get it, and, crucially, what stories the data tells. This means that we will actually be sitting and working together – using our collective insight and knowledge to give us an incredible understanding of the needs and opportunities in Trafford.

Whilst this is the main purpose of the lab, there will be other things that we’ll be doing. We’ll be using the InfoTrafford platform to make available even more data, analyses and visualisations. A key focus will be to make it easier to find information on InfoTrafford. We’ll also be adding all Open Data that we produce to data.gov.uk, and investigating what we can do with datagm.org.uk.

Where appropriate (ie – not personal data, or subject to copyright), our data will also be modelled and uploaded to the GMDSP quad store, which will hopefully lead to synchronisation with other LAs in Greater Manchester. This is how we will achieve 5* status for our Open Data, and will be supported by Open Data Institute Certificates (we already have a ‘Pilot’ certificate for our streetlights data – the first Local Authority in the North to achieve any kind of certificate, and the first Local Authority anywhere to get Pilot..!)

We will also be looking at new technologies, and how we might use them in our quest to make Trafford even better. Sensor arrays, machine learning, and drones are all examples of emerging tech that has the possibility to help (re)design services, or alter demand – we just aren’t yet sure how.

The final thing that the lab will offer is an ‘Open Workspace’. The principle is that we will dedicate a space in the office to allow members of the developer community; voluntary sector and charities; professionals; and students, to come and look over our shoulder at the work that we’ll be doing. They (you..?) will be able to ask for data, see what we hold that we’ve not released yet, test bids or apps with us, or just see how we’re using data and technology in partnership with others.

So what happens next?

I’ve met with all the people who’ll be involved from the beginning, and as soon as we’ve got a space to call our own, we’ll be starting to work together. For a variety of reasons, we aren’t sure exactly when this will be…

I’ll also be presenting the Lab concept to the Trafford Partnership at the end of July (Slidedeck to be made available)

We’ll get cracking immediately with a few pieces of work:

We’re intending to run this entire thing in the open, so we’ll be blogging here whenever we see fit to. I’ll also be tweeting as and when, @_datapreneur, so that’s probably worth a follow, if you are interested. You can also email me, at jamie.whyte@trafford.gov.uk. You could also try phoning me on 07541495259, if you want…

Please feel free to get in touch!


Mapping Dog Poo Bins (part 1 – acquiring the data)

We were asked by our comms team if we could help them out with a campaign they are running – #BeResponsible – encouraging Trafford’s dog-owning residents and visitors to pick up their dog’s poo, and put it in a bin, rather than leaving it on the pavement, or (worse), hanging it from a tree.

They specifically wanted a map of bins in Trafford that they could use in promotional literature to devise a series of dog-walking routes.

Now unlike streetlights, schools or trees, we did not already have bins (dog poo, or classic) geocoded, so we set about finding out what we could about bins in Trafford.

It turns out that Trafford, with a population of 228,000 plays host to 1,200 public bins. This represents a rate of 5.3 bins for every 1,000 people. I do not know how this compares to other areas, but what I do know is that this data is available in this format:


The format of the data clearly makes it impossible to simply drop into our GIS, so I had to come up with a potential alternative. In theory, it is possible to use a smartphone to physically capture the lat and long of the bins, by taking a photo with geotagging enabled. By focussing on parks, we could draw up routes and maps for each ward in Trafford (30 parks, across 21 wards). This geotagging could be performed by the people who empty the bins, or it could be that members of the public are encouraged to take a #dogpoobinselfie with geo-data enabled, that they could send to us (not by twitter, though – the relevent Exif metadata does not transfer over Twitter).

As a proof of concept, I agreed to go round my local park (Woodheys Park, in Sale) photographing and geotagging all bins in the park:

This was actually pretty easy – a case of walking round the park (improved health and wellbeing) looking for bins (kids – we’re doing  a TREASURE HUNT), and taking a photo when one is found.

Once back at a computer, the photos can be transferred, and the standard Windows Photo Viewer allows you to view some Exif data:

Exif Data Sample
Exif Data in Windows Photo Viewer

BUT – it is useful to know that if the file is uploaded to an online Exif viewer utility, like View Exif Data, more data is available.

So far, then, I’ve managed to get one park’s worth of data (plus a couple of other bins that I’ve seen as I go about my daily business). But what to do with it next?

Part two of this post will go over the more interesting side to this sort of exercise – adding the bins to OpenStreetMap, producing an interactive map with Leaflet.js, and other visualisations. I will also look at getting proper dog-fouling data from our CRM system, and see what happens when we put bin data on top of dog poo reports.

Data Driven Trafford