Open letter to political parties

Our colleague Jeni Tennison recently wrote this open letter to political parties contesting the UK General Election.

We hope all political parties in Wales will follow her two simple suggestions in the run up to the election and so we have republished her letter here and sent a copy the main parties in Wales.

Dear […]

The UK will have a general election on 8 June 2017. You and other political parties are putting forward candidates, creating a manifesto that says what you will do if you form part of the government after the election and campaigning for the votes of the electorate. If you form part of the next government, you will want to deliver your manifesto and policy ideas.

Like every other organisation you will find that in the 21st century data and technology are essential tools to help with all of these things.

Voters need to know what your policies are, who your candidates are and what those candidates think. To get this information to people you will need to collect, use and publish data online, and you will want people to trust that you are doing this in a way which is ethical. Meanwhile, if you get into power you will find that data and technology create new ways to deliver your policies in ways that meet the changed expectations of citizens.

Unfortunately, recent political campaigns have had common themes:

  • concerns over the use of personal data and targeted advertising
  • electoral processes that have not been adapted to the 21st century
  • a lack of debate over the changes to our society that are being brought about by the internet and world wide web

We are asking you today to make two simple enhancements to your practices in the run-up to the general election:

  1. Publish information about candidates as open data
  2. Openly state how you use and reuse personal data in the cause of your campaign

We, and many other people, can help you do this through providing advice, tools and guides. There is more detail about why we are asking this. Please let us know if you would like our support at any stage.

Our goal with this request, as with other things that we do, is to encourage the best use of data, to build people’s trust in how organisations use data and to help people make informed decisions. In this case, the decision people are making is who should represent them in our democratic system.

We are here to help and to work with you. Please email if you need support or would like to discuss this further.

Yours sincerely,

Jeni Tennison CEO Open Data Institute

Data for policy in the Welsh language


It started with a camp

Open Data Camp was held in Cardiff a couple of weeks ago. It is a free gathering of people from across the UK and further afield who are interested in publishing or making use of data. Especially open data.

Ben from the ODI-Cardiff core team pitched a session on the target the Welsh government has set to increase the number of Welsh speakers to 1M by 2050 (roughly a doubling compared to today). The discussion focused on what forms of data and what models are available or could be developed that would help inform and guide policy at a national or local level to meet this target.

A live blog of the session and collaborative notes are available (in English only) so we won’t repeat what was covered here.

We have a project

We will be doing some work on this within the ODI-Cardiff community over the next few weeks.

What we definitely plan to work on includes:

  • Taking the population growth modelling for Wales as a whole and for local authorities (from StatsWales) to look at what seems likely to happen to the language with no further interventions
  • Looking at the population growth models in more detail to see what sort of interventions in schools would be necessary to get close to meeting the targets
  • Looking at the local authority data to make estimates of what each local authority might reasonably need to achieve in terms of Welsh speakers to contribute to the 1M target over all

We would like to work on things like:

  • More sophisticated modelling based on an understanding of how levels of speaking other minority languages have changed in other contexts
  • Building a model of Wales and language use so that the likely impact of policy interventions can be predicted and policy can be improved up front

Staff from the National Assembly took part in the session and are keen to see what the community can do with the data that is currently out there.

We’d really like your help.

We especially need people with modelling skills (in any field not necessarily Welsh language models) and people who know about language use and change.

That said, enthusiasm is the key skill. If you’d like to get involved, please get in touch now.

(We don’t have any funding for this, this is strictly a volunteer and community project).

ODI-Cardiff at Digital Tuesday in Penarth

The latest Digital Tuesday event focused on The Open Data Challenges for Wales.

ODI-Cardiff was ably represented by Esko Reinikainen.

During the talk he covered the mission of both the ODI and ODI Cardiff, data as infrastructure, the data spectrum, recent projects from Wales, and invited everyone who is interested to join our online community.  There was also a call to help us map the open data ecosystem in Wales using a one minute survey. If you are a data producer, publisher or consumer in Wales, we would like to hear from you.

Here is a video of the slides used.

He’s published the slides from the evening. You can access all of the live links in the presentation directly from the slides.

(Photo by Tikki Davies and used with her kind permission)



The Cambrian News helps readers understand the attendance of their councillors

We’d like to highlight a nice piece of data journalism from Ceredigion.

Cambrian News reporter Caleb Spencer wanted to make the information on councillors’ attendance at meetings more accessible to his readers. He created a visualisation in CartoDB which breaks the information down by ward.

The full article How does your councillor’s attendance record stack up? was published on The Cambrian News

Who owns our data infrastructure?

Data is the raw material that will help us meet 21st century challenges: to reduce friction in our economy, increase our sustainability and create opportunities to innovate.

Our data infrastructure is as important as our physical infrastructure.

A strong data infrastructure will increase interoperability and collaboration, efficiency and productivity in public and private sectors, nationally and internationally.

Having the right conditions for data will benefit everyone. It will reduce transaction costs, grow supply chains and inform citizens. A coherent data infrastructure should be a baseline condition for a healthy, progressive society, and a competitive global economy.

In this paper we explore the question “who owns our data infrastructure – globally, nationally and locally?” We look at what data ownership looks like and what we can expect from those that manage data that is fundamental to a functioning society.

What do you think?

We’re interested in your feedback. You could:

  • write a blogpost and share the link with us, or pitch it for the ODI website
  • raise the issue in your local data networks and tell us how it is received
  • tell us which questions about data infrastructures should be addressed first

You can email or tweet us at @ODIHQ.

What are ODI Nodes: Creating a global network

The ODI Nodes are an important part of our global network. The last year has seen significant growth: we have welcomed Rio, Devon, Queensland and Athens to the community; our first group of nodes have become ODI registered trainers; our community of nodes have collaborated with us to deliver global projects; and the network is starting to develop commercial products.

This year we are introducing a framework of core activities for our nodes. Our ambition is to scale our existing business models – creating repeatable products and activities – to ensure nodes deliver consistent quality across the network. We have worked closely with our community over the past year and identified the key activities they will develop. The new focus will involve two categories of ODI Nodes:

  •   Network nodes – running meetups, holding meetings, building an individual membership network
    *   Learning nodes – running courses taught by an accredited trainer to teach local businesses and governments about how to work with open data

Starting the node network

The Open Data Institute (ODI HQ) opened in 2012 to catalyse open data culture in the UK. By 2013, we had received an overwhelming response from international organisations, many of which wanted to set up a local ODI in their own country, city or area. As a response, we collaborated with this community and built the ODI Node network, focussed on creating global impact from open data.

This table shows the focus of each node, for 2015:

Our ODI Node network is demonstrating how open data is helping to solve problems around the world. They are our local partners of choice for innovation projects and each will facilitate networking activities and learning opportunities within their local communities.