ODCamp 5 Belfast: Working with Open Data

OD Camp is rapidly becoming the leading event for finding out about the latest trends and best practices in the Open Data Landscape. ODCamp is organised in the format of an ‘unconference’ entirely devoted to Open Data. An interdisciplinary workshop where developers, academia, public bodies, civil society and private companies come together to share experience and knowledge and to raise awareness around recent trends.

ODCamp is a very well-known event within the Open Data Community in UK and Ireland, and its popularity is increasing with attendees at this Belfast edition coming from across the EU and USA. This year’s ODCamp has definitely met all expectations, with an agenda full of interactive sessions and a diverse gathering of professionals coming from different fields and with a variety of competencies. Below is a brief summary of some of the discussions that emerged.

Open Data Impact

A popular session at Open Data Camp 5 was the Open Data Impact session, pitched by Christopher Gutteridge and our CEO Deirdre Lee. Deirdre highlighted that as Open Data initiatives mature and more datasets are being made available, the emphasis is increasingly on the quality of the data and how the data is being used to realise benefits. In the session, we discussed the questions how do you measure the impact of open data, how do you prioritise which data sets to release, and how can government organisations be supported to embed this into their everyday processes?

In a follow up session, Christoper led the co-creation of an excellent shared document, which lists common Open Data hygiene factors that can prevent people getting value from Open Data and, more importantly, authors’ suggestions of how to mitigate these. Read the full document at getting more value from Open Data publishing

(In-the-moment drawings created by Drawnalism)

Working with Open Data and Open Data Formats

Another topic that came through many sessions was what it means to work with Open Data and how to effectively engage with all stakeholders involved in the collection, publishing and reuse of open government data. The Open Data Maturity Model, presented by Gianfranco Cecconi in a session on Day 1, is a structured model to assess how well an organisation publishes and consumes open data, and identifies actions for improvement. It looks at actions relating to data management processes, knowledge & skills, customer support & engagement, investment & financial performance, and strategic oversight.

The role that catalogues and metadata play in Open Data initiatives was also discussed. “Also, I’d say that a catalogue is not just useful for external users. It can be useful for internal users; because you can’t use your own data if you don’t know what you’ve got.

Open Data for Fun

Playing with open data in virtual worlds for real benefits is a new way of experimenting with Open Data integration to design new and innovative services for citizens. Great examples during this session were presented by Christopher Gutteridge. “The story of this goes back quite a way. I kept going to an art gallery on the Isle of Wight, and I wanted to join in. So, I decided to build the seafront in Minecraft. I got OpenStreetMap, and traced it, and then modelled it in the Minecraft world. I printed it out in 3D and put the prints in a gallery. And people paid for them! You can still buy them if you go to Ventnor.”

Open Data and GDPR

GDPR is certainly a topic of great interest at the moment. In the context of the implications that GDPR has for data ownership and data sharing, session leader of Whose data is it anyway? Kim Moylan had us reflect on “what happens if people pluck themselves out of data? Do we leave a blank line, or just take what is there? You will have to remove information that is no longer relevant. But what is no longer relevant in a medical record? What about the census? That is a big open data set, if people remove themselves from the census, then what do we do then?”

Open Data Case Studies

Lots of great real-life examples of Open Data reuse and impact were presented over the weekend. Here is a brief  list of some of them:

  • Open Data Case Study: How Belfast found £350,000 in rates revenues using open FHRS data
  • Making Open Data Camp matter – to local economies and more
  • Could free wifi use data be useful to Belfast?
  • Getting the open data you need for good Neighbourhood Planning
  • Belfast’s Low Power Wide Area Network: how to use it?
  • Open Data GP registers

A huge thanks to Suzie, Cormac, Pauline and all the organisers for a very fun and informative weekend – it’s taken us the week to recover 🙂 You can find all of the blog posts from the ODCamp 5 sessions here.