Open Data - what's next?
I suggested in yesterday’s post in the Guardian that in order to fulfil the potential of open data for the voluntary sector, we need to reach a critical mass of activity, and that fostering new relationships between technology and charity experts is one way that we’ll get there. So what are we proposing to do about it?
In the spirit of ‘physician, heal thyself’, we’re looking at how we can open up our data, and integrate the use of open data into the work of the Trust and its funded partners. I’m looking forward to sharing the revelations and reversals we encounter along the way.
We’re also responding to a call from Will Perrin at the ‘Opening Doors’ conference to develop an online space for voluntary organisations interested in using and supplying open data to share stories, tools, tutorials and reflections. This can be initially populated with material from the open data days and conference, as well the activities of the burgeoning number of 'early adopter' organisations such as Barnsley Hospice and Will’s own Indigo Trust.
A big challenge (or opportunity, depending on how optimistic I’m feeling) is to design this space so that it creates its own open data which can be of use elsewhere, without requiring lots of additional data-entry (or re-formatting) from users. There are many lessons to be learned here from IATI, the International Aid Transparency Initiative, which has developed a data standard for International Development programmes.
The final thing we’re working on is a development of the open data days we ran earlier this year. We’re looking at running a series (three, probably) of ‘open learning sets’: groups of 6-8 individuals, working over 4-6 months towards open data objectives for their respective organisations with regular, facilitated discussions and technical support. At the moment we’re considering three different starting points for the sets:
Place - working with, and adding to, the open data available for a city/region to specify social challenges and suggest potential solutions;
Challenge - using open data to increase our collective understanding of, and approach to, a particular social challenge;
Data - build tools, discussion and a layer of voluntary sector open data around an existing open dataset.
We’re pleased to be continuing to collaborate with our colleagues at Big Lottery Fund and NCVO on this work, and would welcome any thoughts, suggestions, questions or requests you have on any of the above.
Drop me an email or twit in my general direction (@ejanderton).