Weeknotes #12, February 24th, 2023

This week Alex Parsons and Anna Powell-Smith published a good report on Unlocking the value of fragmented public data which has very practical recommandations on how we can do a better job when many organisations are required to publish the same data. To inform the recommendations they talked to various people who've worked with a variety of data publishers/datasets in local and national contexts. They feature a case study around our Business Rates errorts as well as the tools we made to help people contribute to the Leeds City Region Diversity Dashboard. We're glad that it acknowledges the technical/resource constraints that many local authorities face and that things should be made as easy for them as possible - don't require people in local authorities to publish 5 star linked data but instead frame things more around enabling data to be brought together from multiple councils consistency and reliability. If we could get most councils publishing 2 or 3 star data well, 4 and 5 star data could be built from that by someone else. All the recommendations are worth a read.

This week saw the second session for our Northern Economic Data User Group (NED) where people gathered from as far afield as Newcastle and Liverpool to hear and discuss a variety of work that's underway to better understand the economy of the north. Tom Forth talked about his work on ghost buses (and seeks active volunteers to stand at bus stops and verify the data!), Nicola Headlam from Red Flag Alert showed us their new tool to help identifying growth companies (and the fact that most are not in high-profile and sexy sectors: policy challenge!), Christian showed the updates to our Economic Data Dashboard and tools that we've built to support a couple of our projects including auto-generating metadata from flat CSVs to support clients to understand what's possible when building prototypes, and how we're building a model that allows us to flexibly compute n bands of council tax at any ratio or rate you like and see how much it could raise. Discussions carried on in the pub, as all good things do, and we're already plotting the next one in May. In Leeds, online, or on tour? Let us know!. Links to all of the things discussed are in the shared doc for the event.

Louis published the second blog on the Open Data and Open Justice project, starting to look at data reform within the justice system of England and Wales. I’m speaking to people working in the area to broaden the scope of this and garner some opinions. He's also been speaking to people working in the Data Ethics field to begin building a picture of valuable work alongside highlighting where initiative is lacking.

We've been using a static site generator called Lume for a few of our recent projects, including this very site. Giles was delighted to be contacted by Oscar, the maintainer of Lume asking if we'd like to be included on the Lume showcase. You'll now see this site as well as the LEEDS 2023 data microsite featured.

We learned this week that the Swiss German for data geek is Datenfreak, and that our Tom is one (this was not a surprise). This insight came thanks to the So viele Menschen leben im Umkreis von jedem Punkt der Welt (How many people live around a point in the world) article publuished by Reto Fehr. Reto professes his love for Tom's Population around a point visualisation, which does what it says on the tin. Select the size of circuel, click on the map, find out the population. Simple.

Project work carries on apace, with good progress on visualisation for the Local Skills Improvement Plans for West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.

Quite a few other projects are at the important 'plan and agree' stage. This means, at some point we'll be terribly busy, so it's good news that we've hired someone to the delivery team. We'll introcuce him properly in a couple of weeks when he actually joins.

Our light, bright and airy offices have had some new residents, with NG Bailey making use of our flexible working and meeting space. Please get in touch if you're looking for somewhere to host your meeting workshop or event in central Leeds.

Don't forget we have the 37th Session of Open Data Saves Lives, on the topic of health inequalities coming up on 1st March (that's next week).