I am new to all this

Written by: Forsyth Hill, Data Mill North, 12/10/2016

Hello, my name is Forsyth, I am the newest member of the Open Data team at Leeds City Council.  I started full involvement on 19th September.

I have arrived at a really exciting time, as there seems to be a groundswell in the desire to do collaborative work across public, private and voluntary sectors all using data which is in the public domain.

You will no doubt be aware if you are reading this that there are 326 datasets available through Data Mill North at the moment and we are chasing down more with a view to persuading their owners that they can be released into the public domain without the sky falling on our heads.

One question that has been put to the team is. ”How can we engage with new potential users for Data Mill North?” which got me thinking about who the users of open data are now, and who else may become a user when they realise the value of this resource and it’s availability. That is something that would be worth monitoring to assess the impact of Data Mill North. It might also be interesting to see the variety of uses people find for open data.

We know that app developers love data and they come up with cool toys, if you haven’t checked out the Leeds Bins app yet do it immediately. I will wait here for you………………………….

Ah good you are back. What do you think of it? I like it a lot.

There are also community interest groups, for example some of the people who were affected by the awful flooding at the end of 2015 have done some excellent work using data sets that are in the public domain to demonstrate risk areas using data and modelling tools.

Academics always enjoy a good data set too, but how do we get the public at large to engage with open data? This seems to be the challenge. We are hoping to promote and encourage greater use of Data Mill North in the schools in the Leeds area and tap into the fresh thinking and IT competence that young people who have grown up with technology can bring to the party through school and individual projects.

The whole point of open data, to my mind, is that it is public property and the public are probably the greatest untapped source of ideas of how we could use the data we are making available to improve the lives of those in our areas.

If you have read this far I would love it if you took the time to share with me examples of where open data has been used creatively, or if you are involved in a project which requires open data in order to realise its potential let me know about it and what inspired it. It will help me to get a feel for what is going on in the Open Data Community and how it is expanding and developing.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.