Links: Session 3A – #opendata at a local level

The once-humble spreadsheet has been at the heart of some of the biggest stories of the last few years, stories like MPs expenses and WikiLeaks.

But what about the other end of the spectrum from these national and international stories? The value of open data to local journalists and communities cannot be underestimated. From finding local government stories to providing community services around your content, open data holds all sorts of benefits for regional, local and hyperlocal journalists.

The UK is not ahead of the curve on this one, with the US already having established dedicated open data sites for several of its major cities: San Francisco, Washington and New York among them.

On a national level we have, and London has the excellent London Datastore, but this is still a lot more that could be done.

In the local data session at news:rewired, we’ll be looking at the potential of open data for journalists, publishers, developers and local government itself, in order to better serve and engage the community.

Here are a few links and resources on the topic ahead of the session.

Information and resources

Department for Comunities and Local Governent – This release from the DCLG – from June last year – sets out the reasons and the planning behind publishing all local government spending data over £500.

Council expenditure over £500 – This Directgov site allows you to search that spending data by council.

London Datastore – The London Datastore was created by the Greater London Authority (GLA) in order to help publish and organise the data from the GLA and other public sector organisations in the city.

Public data transparency principles – These governments guidelines show a quite clear set of public data principles for councils, and the local spending data guidance shows how councils are being guided in releasing the local spending data.

Openly Local – Openly Local was created by news:rewired speaker Chris Taggart with the aim of to developing an open and unified way of accessing local government information. So far it has opened up data on 163 councils.

Open Definition – This site from the Open Knowledge Foundation sets out to define what open data actually is. Well worth a look to get to grips with some of the terminology and concepts used in the field. OKF director Dr. Rufus Pollock will be speaking in the local data session at news:rewired.

In practice

Manchester Evening News’ analysis of the GMP-24 police tweets – The MEN won a digital innovation award last week for this project, which took data about incidents of crime tweeted by Greater Manchester Police over a 24-hour period and analysed it as it came in, producing visualisations to boot.

Islington crime clean up rates: Will Perrin’s Kings Cross Environment graphed crime clean up stats from the London Datastore for the Islington Borough and compared the figures with the Met police average.

Open data cities: a lifeline for local newspapers – A comment piece from Greg Hadfield, who has been banging the drum for the open data in cities and towns for years. Here, Greg sets out his vision for open data in his own city, Brighton and Hove, and the potential benefits for local newspapers.

Sarah Hartley: Datastore – Guardian Local editor Sarah Hartley has created her own local datastore on her blog, with some great examples of local data journalism. Hartley links to the stories and to the datasets used in each case.

Where Does my Money Go – Also from the Open Knowledge Foundation, this excellent site uses data analysis and visualisation to show people where their taxes go.

Birmingham cycle data: This site uses cycling data in Birmingham as a service for cyclists in the area and as a source for related news stories. It is a good example of the kind of feature that can be used to build and engage a community around a hyperlocal site.

Who to follow on Twitter

@emercoleman – director of digital projects with the GLA / @londondatastore – London Data Store / @countculture – Chris Taggart of Openly Local/ @openlylocal – Openly Local / @rufuspollock – director of the Open Knowledge Foundation / @jwyg – Jonathan Grey community co-ordinator at the Open Knowledge Foundation / @okfn – Open Knowledge Foundation / @LatestDataGovUK – UK Government’s Open Data site /@greghadfield – director of strategic projects at Cogapp / @joncarrwest – director of the Local Government Information Unit / @LGiU – Local Government Information Unit

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