Things are moving along nicely…

We have not been idle of the last three months.  The Advocates are in place and ready to start blogging and uploading datasets.  The publishers are now able to access Open Data email and are uploading information in the form of reports and articles onto the relevant websites and linking these to the raw datasets that can be used and reused by those interested enough.

The one we are following closely is the Equality and Diversity data, should be published by 31st January by our publisher Matt Hawthorne.

Warwickshire has also successfully recruited a new GIS Manager who will eventually be the contact point for Open Data in Warwickshire, his details will be published in time, once we have inducted and prepared him sufficiently.

Opening up Warwickshire’s data – again!

The main driver for open data is that the current Government has pledged to making public sector data openly available.  It is high on their agenda, supported by the Opposition, and soon to be a legal requirement.

What is Open Data and how will if effect you?

The idea is that collections of non-personal data held by the public sector should be freely available to be used and re-mixed by anyone who is interested. The objectives for this is that our data will be:

  • open so that it can be turned into useful applications
  • transparent so government can be accountable
  • shared between public sector partners more efficiently.

Datasets owned by Warwickshire will be encouraged to be made public wherever practical and secure to do so.

  • Data will be published on the council’s websites.
  • All data will be published in formats which will allow easy reuse with csv as a default.
  • All data will be issued as free to use, in accordance with the Open Government Licence which is compatible with a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike License.
  • Datasets will be recorded in HM Government’s register of open data at http://data.gov.uk and at http://opendata.warwickshire.gov.uk.
  • Dataset versions and published date will be clearly labelled, with a schedule for regular maintenance.

What does this mean for you?

One of the benefits of continuing to develop our open data resources is that by increasing our catalogue of datasets allows for the development of new, innovative and accurate web sites and applications to enhance the dissemination and use of data.
It will also aid and promote the concept of recycling and reusing application resources as a single dataset can be used in many applications, thereby creating a single source of the truth. By removing the issue of duplication of data records, it organically simplyfies the Information Architecture.
Our current applications can be found at the following address:
We need more datasets to be published and the applications that will naturally follow.  To this end Warwickshire has created an Open Data Group to set up the business processes needed to embed the principles of open data in our everyday culture.  So far it consists of  a group of advocates, including three publishers, that are tasked with finding and promoting datasets. The organisation chart and assorted documentation will be published on the  Wiki in due course (under ICT Strategy).

Re-animating Warwickshire Open Data

jurassic park posterFor the last year or so the WCC open data project has been in a state of near hibernation – although we have been steadily updating our open data site with various bits and pieces (most notably monthly information on all payments over £500) – a number of factors have meant that the amount of time and effort that we have been able to put into this area has dwindled.

It is now time for a crack multi-disciplinary team of WCC staff to re-animate this slumbering giant. Rather than some complicated DNA based cloning method, we have brought together a variety of staff from across the organisation to form an open data group.

The purpose in creating this group is to spread the idea of and responsibility for open data across the authority rather than it being seen as an ICT-centric initiative.

There will be more news and information on these exciting new developments very, very soon. And with a bit of luck it won’t involve anyone getting eaten.

A Small Victory

Through a fantastic team effort by our Road Safety Unit, our GIS team and Health & Safety, our open data site is now the proud owner of the School Crossing Patrol data. Finally, we are moving closer to my dream of  Walk This Way, Talk This Way becoming a reality.

For anyone who has been privy to my Open Data presentation, you will know that this is one of my Town Mayors. For those wondering what on earth I am on about, watch out for “Kate Sahota – Open Data Promoter”, coming to an open data event near you!

No flies on us

Now the dust has settled after the highly successful Hack Warwickshire competition, there are no flies on us as we have just released a whopping 12 datasets. These datasets are all related to Waste Management in Warwickshire so come and have a look and see if you can do something exciting with our rubbish.

The highly awaited locations our School Crossing Patrols are imminent, as well as some very interesting data around our energy consumption in council buildings. We’ll be blogging and tweeting as soon as these are available.

Discussions are taking place on the £500+ expenditure figures with our finance teams. Our staff are beavering away tidying up some of the data to ensure there is no personal information at risk of being published. We hope to have something out in the next couple of months.

The Political Mashup and Open Data

According to Wikipedia, there are many types of mashup. Now, thanks to David Cameron and Nick Clegg there is a new type of mashup – the Political Mashup (if I could copyright that, I would). 

I’ve been having tremendous fun reading “The Coalition: Programme for Government” this morning with my Open Data glasses on looking for more carrots and sticks to “encourage” data out of WCC. It seems Dave and Nick have heard my furious swearing after yet another unsuccessful phone call with one of our data huggers (that’s what I call them on a good day). Here are just a few extracts from the programme that should help local authorities overcome some of the problems we are currently having: 

  • Setting government data free will bring significant economic benefits by enabling businesses and non-profit organisations to build innovative applications and websites
  • We will require public bodies to publish online the job titles of every member of staff and the salaries and expenses of senior officials paid more than the lowest salary permissible in PayBand 1 of the Senior Civil Service pay scale, and organograms that include all positions in those bodies
  • We will publish government ICT contracts online
  • We will require full, online disclosure of all central government spending and contracts over £25,000
  • We will create a new ‘right to data’ so that government-held datasets can be requested and used by the public, and then published on a regular basis
  • We will require all councils to publish meeting minutes and local service and performance data
  • We will ensure that all data published by public bodies is published in an open and standardised format, so that it can be used easily and with minimal cost by third parties
  • We will implement the Sustainable Communities Act, so that citizens know how taxpayers’ money is spent in their area
  • We will oblige the police to publish detailed local crime data statistics every month

I’d like to end on a positive note as I feel I may have overplayed how difficult I am finding getting data out of WCC. On the whole, everyone has been marvellous at getting me their data and been very supportive. The ones that haven’t, you know who you are.

Don’t stop us now…

The WCC open data team are having such a good time.

Like the Icelandic volcano, our open data work has been rumbling along nicely over the last few weeks. We’ve had a steady stream of new data being delivered neatly on our doorstep and the excitement of being “officially” launched.

Just in the last few hours we’ve had exclusions data, bridge weight limits and height restrictions.

Like the new kid at school, we have been received well and everyone has been very kind and gentle, but now it’s time to get on with the job and ensure all of our hard work produces some great results before we get roughed up behind the bike sheds.

In the pipeline we have listed buildings, school crossing patrols, congestion, budget and revenue, and pension fund data, to name just a few.

As we speak, my colleague is busy writing the rules for our Hack Warwickshire competition, due to launch within the next couple of weeks. We have also been developing some very exciting sample applications to give you an idea of what could be done with our data.

So keep watching, we will be flaunting ourselves shamelessly around the open data community over the next few weeks.

Warwickshire Open Data Site Now Live

As of now the open data site is available at http://opendata.warwickshire.gov.uk. the site will be officially launched next week but if you want to kick the tyres and check out the data that is already available please feel free. Any WCC people may find that this URL doesn’t work properly within our network – don’t panic we will be sending round an alternative address via other means.

Currently there is a small collection of data sets available, but by next week there will be more information available and in more formats. We will also be gearing up the community side of the site and have already set up a new twitter feed to help keep the wider world informed @wccopendata.

We are really keen to get any feedback, so please add comments here or get in touch via opendata@warwickshire.gov.uk.

If you love something, set it free…

It seems our initial fears of reluctance within WCC to release data were mostly unfounded. Over the course of last few days our open data has, quite literally, been trickling in.

So for everyone eagerly awaiting the grand launch of WCC’s Open Data site, I can confirm we will have the following datasets:

  • WCC School closures
  • WCC News
  • WCC Events
  • WCC Councillors
  • Committee Meetings
  • Jobs
  • Museums
  • One Stop Shops
  • Libraries
  • Country Parks
  • Recycling Centres
  • Schools
  • School admissions data

And (hopefully) the following datasets will be coming to a screen near you very soon:

  • Pupils on roll
  • Pupils with SEN
  • Free School Meal eligibility
  • Pupils with a first language other than English
  • Pupil ethnic groups
  • Pupil absences
  • Pupil exclusions
  • Roadworks information
  • Congestion information
  • Election information

Coming Soon…

This blog is part of the forthcoming Warwickshire Open Data initiative being run by the ICT Strategy team in Warwickshire County Council.

The point of this work is to provide a single point where anyone can get hold of raw data and web services from the authority. We hope this will lead to new levels of transparency as well as providing the building blocks for those who would like to build web sites and applications that use and analyse our data.

The technical work is nearing completion and we are working with our colleagues inside the organisation to find and expose numerous sets of information – a limited set will be available at launch which will steadily increase over the coming months.

As part of our work to publicise this initiative we will also be holding a “Hack Warwickshire” competition, which will challenge everyone to come up with new and innovative uses for our data and web services. More information on this will be available once the open data site is up and running.

Please check back for more updates in the next couple of weeks, we hope to have the site up and running in early April, until then if you have any questions, please contact us at opendata@warwickshire.gov.uk – or you could visit our ICT Strategy blog at www.abigbang.wordpress.com.