On the Road: Making Transparency Work Local authorities should embrace their open data communities

In June 2014, the Local Government Association invited The Better With Data Society to give a presentation and deliver a workshop at their Making Transparency Work roadshow event in York.

The LGA run these roadshows to support local authorities to engage with open data, particularly pertinent now that the local government transparency code published by central government sets out the datasets and other information that authorities are obliged to publish as open data.

We were invited to talk on the topic of ‘Opening Minds with Open Data: Engaging Communities from the Bottom Up,’ based on our experiences of building the open data community in Sheffield.

Ian and Danny gave a slightly frenetic presentation in the afternoon to break the postprandial lull, telling some stories about the successes and challenges of open data engagement over the years. Some of you will remember the early days of the first GeekUp meeting talking open data in 2008, the excitement then disappointment of ‘The Sheffield App’, lots of good community involvement in events like Hack The City (next event focusing on the Open Data Housing Challenge: 16 August), and the mixed bag of experiences engaging potential open data publishers across the public, private and voluntary sectors.

Overall, we wanted to make the point that local authorities will only realise all the many benefits of open data by working with the willing and able open data communities in their areas.

And local authorities have an excellent opportunity to start embracing the possibilities. The deadline for applications to the open data Breakthrough Fund and Release of Data Fund programmes is 16 July, and the recently announced Local Open Data Incentive scheme offers local authorities £7000 for releasing three key datasets (planning applications, public toilets and premises licences).

Danny Antrobus

Tends to do stuff about open data, voluntary sector, fundraising, comedy writing. Co-founder of The Better With Data Society @opensheffield.