Funding boost for open data plan

By on 09/12/2014 in Cllr Trickett, News

A consortium led by Birmingham City Council has secured funding from the Cabinet Office to support the development of a Birmingham Data & Skills Hub.

It is hoped the hub will act as a catalyst to encourage citizens, communities and third sector organisations to understand the value of open data analysis to help address community issues that matter most to them.

The consortium, including partners from Aston University, Boilerhouse Media, Podnosh and RAWM (Regional Action West Midlands), has received £124,000  from the Cabinet Office’s Release of Data Fund that will help accelerate and automate open data extraction and publication processes from Birmingham City Council’s systems and others onto Birmingham’s new Open Data Hub that is currently under development.

A number of other groups will also be involved such as Open Mercia, West Midlands Open Data Forum, and community groups in Castle Vale and Sparkbrook Ward – who have voiced a need for better data analysis to help them campaign, plan and influence commissioning of services and support service planning.

However, their ambitions are currently being stifled by a lack of awareness and data literacy skills, but to tackle this Podnosh and RAWM are developing a range of open data engagement activities including the use of the award-winning Social Media Surgeries and working with existing neighbourhood groups to develop residents’ interest in data analysis and enhance the activity of networks.

The funding also includes the development of easy to use visualisation tools by Boilerhouse that will help create a level playing field in the use of data for third sector organisations, communities and members of the public, decreasing the need for technical skills by providing simple-to-use interfaces and applications.

Cllr Lisa Trickett, Cabinet Member for Green, Smart and Sustainable City at Birmingham City Council, said: “Release and use of data is at the heart of helping us build greater transparency.

“Enabling citizens and communities to understand the data will support them to gain new insights and evidence to embed improvements, drive community enterprise and make best use of available funds to commission better targeted services and allocate resources to areas of most need.â€

All of the data published, visualisation tools and training materials will be freely available under Open Government License and Creative Commons for re-use as part of the project funding and a full evaluation report, undertaken by Aston University, will be published on completion of the project.

For a picture supporting this news release, please visit the Birminghamnewsroom Flickr feed.


Notes to Editors

Aston University
Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long established research-led University known for its world-class teaching quality and strong links to industry, government and commerce. Professor Dame Julia King became Vice-Chancellor of the University in 2006.
Aston’s School of Engineering & Applied Science, with its tradition of quality and reputation for cutting edge research, offers students excellent opportunities to join in the process of discovery and creativity, and prepare for an increasingly diverse and technological world. The School’s focus is very much on the inter-disciplinary nature of engineering and applied sciences, the key technologies and their interactions in today’s modern society.

Boilerhouse Media
Boilerhouse Media is a communications consultancy and online publisher with extensive skills in interactive data visualisation. These have been developed through projects for the NHS, central and local government organisations, and a range of professional and third sector organisations. Boilerhouse is listed on the G-Cloud framework and contributes to the Local Data Panel and Birmingham Smart Commission.

Digital Birmingham
Digital Birmingham is part of Birmingham City Council’s Economy Directorate and since 2006 have been at the forefront of leading the city’s digital and more recently Smart Cities development to attract and manage digital investment. We design, test and mainstream digital and ICT innovation in the areas of inclusion, open data, skills, health, energy and mobility that will help accelerate economic growth and support more effective service delivery shaped by the needs and wants of citizens.

The Social Media Surgeries were started in 2008 in Birmingham by Nick Booth of  Podnosh.  Since then they have spread to more than 150 communities in 7 countries.  They have won a Big Society award from the Prime Minister, Adult Learners Award from NIACE and the BBC and Innovation in a Networked Society award from the European Union and Oxford University. Podnosh was established in 2005 and works with communities groups, the public sector and social organisation to help them use social and digital media.

RAWM champions the work and role of the voluntary and community sector (VCS) in its contribution to the economy of the West Midlands and the health and wellbeing of the people who live in, work in and visit the region. In this RAWM proactively works to provide and / or support new initiatives, processes and practices that enable the sector to better communicate with, and influence, those with whom they work, or seek to work with, in meeting the needs of those who access their services.

For more media information contact Kris Kowalewski  on 0121 303 3621

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