Weeknotes #24, May 19th, 2023

The team completed sprint 5 this week, closing a creditable 40 tickets, with 6 in review, 3 in progress and 2 not yet started. Full disclosure: we did shift a few around as it became clear we'd been a bit keen filling up the ready column! We were a bit off the pace with our velocity, in part as we waited for critical information on at least one of our projects, but also as Michelle (who plays a critical role in keeping us delivery focussed!) was on holiday. We also spent a chunk of time at the start of the sprint focussing our efforts on ensuring our project hub pages were up to date. To be fair, we'd probably neglected this critical part of our #RadicallyOpen approach given a couple of pressured months of delivery work, with LSIP, YFF, LEEDS 2023, Tax Devolution and many others. To redress this, we've drafted a helpful checklist of things to do when we start up a project. With his new found enthusiasm for automating all the things (of which more later), Christian has even suggested creating a few default tickets covering these things in any new GitHub project we create. One step at a time!

We held a coffee and cake open meeting for our sponsors on Wednesday. Paul, Kathryn, Michelle, Taz, Stuart, Luke, Christian and Giles (that is to say: most of team OI) met a core group of sponsors including Leeds City and Calderdale Councils, Arup and TPX Impact to chat about what's going on in our world and theirs. It was a great opportunity to discuss what's important for sponsors, as the conversation helps set our priorities as a team and means that we can identify opportunities to make a positive impact. We were particularly interested in the Calderale Anti-Poverty dashboard, which will directly influence our work with The Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

We've got a couple of events coming up: Next week we will be joining Pan Intelligence & The Data City for the No Code Hackathon as part of Climb 23. Following that, on June 8th, we're hosting the Data Ethics forum.

Christian, Luke and Giles made some progress towards the first milestone on the JRF project. We're planning on having some initial visualisations for discussion ready for our meeting next week, and to this end have been creating a new microsite, which will definitely change significantly as we iterate the project. The aim is to create our first, worst version then progressively improve it. You can read about the project in the blog post and even look at the prototype site. All the links are on the North Insight Finder project page.

Our work on Youth Futures Foundation data site continues. We've had some brilliant feedback from the team at YFF on the initial prototype of the data dashboards we're building. As a result we've been working on the next iteration, which will more closely align with the use they make of data. The major new insight we're taking from this feedback is about the monthly and quarterly conversations that they have with their stakeholders. This is critical user research that helps us identify the data that a significant user group uses, and also allows us to start considering the 'self-service' angle if the stakeholders become active users of the microsite. Find our more about the project on the YFF project page.

Giles, Christian and Luke spent a good couple of hours discussing how to automate pipelines for the Economic Data Dashboard Data Tarn. This will become a critical source for many of our economic projects such as the JRF Insight Explorer and the YFF dashboard. At the moment, the currency of the data relies on Christian running a set of R scripts manually. Meanwhile, Giles has been developing patterns for running pipelines automatically using DVC and GitHub Actions. By the end of the session, we had a good working first draft to orchestrate R with DVC, and to run this on a schedule. Importantly, we also developed a pattern for doing this with other R scripts in the future. It's another building block in the platform, but perhaps more importantly, Giles seems to have converted Christian into a complete DevOps advocate. Expect automation of all the things before long...

And finally, Giles came across the Accessible Numbers site when it was shared on Mastodon by Leigh Dodds. The site is packed full of useful guidance aimed at presenting numbers and data clearly. While the focus of the site is people with dyscalculia, low numeracy and maths anxiety, there is a lot in there that would benefit anyone trying to present data in an way that people can use. Sort of begs the question “why do it any other way?”. Definitely something that we will be reflecting upon as we help put more data on the web.

And (even more) finally, Paul saw this tweet by Ahmad Barclay about an amazingly useful tool to view and download UK administrative geographies for a given year. Anyone working on data in the UK will be well aware of the complexity and ever-changing nature of boundaries. We're no exception, and our website contains a handy reference to UK geographies. It's great to have another useful way of dealing with this critical data infrastructure.