Birmingham community issues mapped live online

By on 06/10/2011 in News

Birmingham City Council and local residents can now work more closely together to discuss issues and identify trends in the community through a brand new web tool.

The 'Birmingham Civic Dashboard' (http://civicdashboard.org.uk) allows residents to see local issues reported to the council -  such as housing repairs and anti-social behaviour – on an online interactive map.

Every day, the application takes live data from the city's Customer First contact database and shows trends on the map, allowing both the council and residents to identify 'hotspot' areas where issues are common or recurring.

In turn residents can comment on the trends that emerge over time, giving an on-the-ground perspective on particular issues.  This is the first time that a UK council has put its service request data online in this way.

The pilot website is part of 'Make it Local', a pioneering project run by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA).  The Birmingham Civic Dashboard was developed on behalf of the council by Digital Birmingham and digital production company Mudlark, who together make up one of four teams across the country taking part in the programme.

Birmingham City Council deputy leader Paul Tilsley, who heads up the Digital Birmingham Partnership said: “Putting our data to use in this novel way will enable our Customer First team to look at new ways of involving local people in transforming the delivery of our services, and get to the root causes of customer complaints and particular issues.

“I encourage residents to take this opportunity to visit the new website and use the forum to help shape the way that we work .”

Mudlark director Charles Hunter said: “Building the Civic Dashboard with Digital Birmingham has been a fantastic opportunity for Mudlark and our interest in making datasets easily understandable, engaging and relevant.

“Turning the live data from the Customer First interface into a visualised, public ,online interface proved both challenging  and  fascinating . The public launch opens another chapter in the Dashboard’s development and we are as interested as anyone in how it works.”

NESTA's 'Make it Local' programme aims to help local authorities maximise use of the vast amounts of data they hold to create innovative web-based services that benefit their community. 

Philip Colligan, Executive Director of NESTA's public services lab, said: “The open data movement is often focused on accountability of public services.  That's important but only part of the picture.  The Make it Local programme and this excellent project from Digital Birmingham and Mudlark shows how the data held by councils can be used in innovative ways to transform services and create real value for citizens and communities.”

The online service is live and can be accessed at (http://civicdashboard.org.uk). 

Ends

Notes to editor:

For further information please contact Jan Singleton on 020 7438 2606 or jan.singleton@nesta.org.uk    

About Digital Birmingham
Digital Birmingham is a Birmingham City Council initiative and a strategic partnership of private, voluntary and public organisations throughout the city. It aims to ensure Birmingham is widely recognised as a leading European digital city and ensure that the benefits of digital technologies are available to all in the city. For more information visit www.digitalbirmingham.co.uk.

About NESTA
NESTA is the UK's foremost independent expert on how innovation can solve some of the country's major economic and social challenges. Its work is enabled by an endowment, funded by the National Lottery, and it operates at no cost to the government or taxpayer.

NESTA is a world leader in its field and carries out its work through a blend of experimental programmes, analytical research and investment in early-stage companies www.nesta.org.uk

About 'Make it Local'
'Make it Local' aims to identify how local authorities can maximise their use of open data by working with local digital companies to create innovative services that benefit their community. Applications had to address a specific need identified by local residents, allow users an opportunity to update and augment the data with their own content and use real-time local public data.

The four winning local authorities and their digital partners are:

  • London Borough of Sutton in partnership with web developer Adrian Short. 
  • Kirklees Council in partnership with Thumbprint Co-operative. 
  • Birmingham City Council in partnership with Mudlark. 
  • London Borogh of Barnet n partership with mySociety.

About Mudlark
Mudlark is a digital production company developing innovative content narratives and interactions in a cross-platform context, using data, location, game design and stories as key tools across new technologies and the web. Other projects include the data-driven travel game Chromaroma and Such Tweet Sorrow, the Twitter version of Romeo and Juliet.

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