Weeknotes #8, January 20th, 2023

Taz, Giles and Michelle had a kickoff for phase two of our work with Youth Futures Foundation. We're going to be progressing work on the data portal that we created for them last year. There are many directions that we could take the site in, so it was good to hear from the team at YFF on their priorities. Taz and Giles spent a bit of time reaquainting themselves with the site and performing a bit of required maintenance.

We hosted Planet Data 5 on Wednesday, with a small but focussed set of attendees from Yorkshire Water, Northern Powergrid, ARUP, Leeds City Council, Calderdale Council, and the Satellite Applications Catapault. The discussions centered on preparing for and responding to emergency events - be they large or small scale, and the ways that data could be used. The Satellite Applications Catapault team also brought some interesting perspectives on using remote sensing data, particularly earth observation. You can read more in the open Google doc that is linked from the Planet Data 5 hub page.

Christian has been working on assembling the raw data for two big projects this quarter: providing the data to support West and North Yorkshire Chamber's LSIP proposal, and a Tax Devolution project for Northern Powerhouse Partnership, looking at how different taxes would raise money in different areas including how they would affect redistribution. He's also finally got around to looking at Parquet files in practice, including storing in, and reading from, URLs rather than local file paths, inspired by this tweet and the many links in it from Robin Linacre. He'll now likely be rewriting the back-end systems of EDD and its many dependent products to take advantage of this format soon.

Giles and Taz continued work on the Leeds 2023 data portal, ensuring that the data processing pipelines are robust, and adding new visualisations. In particular, the new callouts metrics page has a visualisation derived from a standard library of visualisations that we're working on. It's exciting to see these common building blocks start to be usable across projects.

By way of wrapping up the work we've been doing for the UK Parliament Digital Service, Giles spent a happy morning writing documents for the Competency Answerability Dashboard ahead of a final handover next week. We were also mentioned in dispatches in the UK Parliament Digital Service weeknotes.

Paul, Kathryn and Stuart have been progressing on our Annual Review. You can find previous reviews linked from the Open Innovations sponsors page.

We tried out the Action Cat experimental transcription bot. You attach the bot to a Google sheet and invite it to your video call, at which point it starts transcribing who said what. You can even say 'remind me' (or whatever phrase you prefer), and it'll keep note of actions. There are some really interesting aspects to this, many of which stem from the fact that the bot writes into a spreadsheet. This means you can hack together your own apps on the fly using well-understood spreadsheet formulas. As Matt Webb says in the Action Cat introductory blog, you can use it to do =ANYTHING(). In practice, the bot does an OK (but not perfect) job of transcribing, and occasionally misattributes text. We also found it dropped out after a period of time. An interesting tool, and one to watch.

We've an interesting meeting coming up next week, as LEEDS 2023 kick off an accessibility audit covering their digital site, including the data microsite we created for them. We were interested to read this article by Johny Cassidy about ways to make heavily graphical content usable by people with visual impairments.