Leading the way in open data

Posted on 13th Mar 2016 by Simon Hanson

Over the past year we at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in the North East have pushed for the North East and Tees Valley to lead the way in releasing and using open data.

We have done a lot to move us closer to achieving this. We’ve met with a number of Councils across the region to lay out our plans and understand how we can work together. To help showcase this we held a successful open data conference in September 2015 and have recently launched a monthly open data meetup in partnership with James Rutherford at Campus North in Newcastle.

Over the next year we are calling on all twelve local authorities in the North East and Tees Valley to work with us to ensure we are leading the way. There are some specific ways that we can work together which are outlined in more detail below.

Move to open by default approach

We’re pushing for all twelve local authorities to adopt an ‘open by default’ open data policy. In summary this means local authorities would publish data openly unless there is a good reason not to. We have seen similar policies being adopted in places like Leeds, Bristol and most recently Camden Council.

If the North East and Tees Valley is to meet our ambition of leading the way in open data moving to this open by default approach is fundamental. This open data policy should’t be treated in silo from the wider economic development and regeneration policy but be seen as a central part of it.

Appoint an open data champion

To help take the open by default approach forward we want all twelve local authorities to appoint an open data champion. Ideally the open data champion will be the person that is most committed within the authority to open data and working with the local community to achieve this.

Once appointed the FSB will host a meeting of all twelve open data champions on a bi-monthly basis to help us achieve the ambition of leading the way and sharing knowledge across the region.

Move to a 5 star approach

There is no other region in the UK that has seen all local authorities adopt the 5star deployment of open data benchmark. We want to see the North East and Tees Valley achieve this in the next year. This would see local authorities publish data in a way that can be used most effectively. There are more details about this at http://5stardata.info/en/

North East and Tees Valley Open Data Challenge Series

We’re pushing for the North East Combined Authority and Tees Valley Combined Authority to replicate the Open Data Challenge Series launched by the Open Data Institute and NESTA. Independent research has shown that for every £1 spent on these challenges generated approximately between £5 and £7 in return. In both proposed devolution deals there are a number of areas that could be used as the bedrock for these challenges including human capital improvement, business support and public service reform.

Improving the data skills across the community

For any open data policy to be successful the data must not only be machine readable but human actionable. We have plans to work with the wider community in partnership with others to improve the data skills and knowledge across all sectors.

Through partnership we achieve more

No one organisation or individual will meet the ambitions for the North East and Tees Valley to be seen as leading the way in open data alone.

Working in partnership with local councils and the wider public sector we can achieve our ambitions for the North East and Tees Valley.

If you’re interested in this and would like to work with us email me at [email protected] or tweet us @FSBnortheast or @NEDataUK so we can start a conversation.