This is the second installment of my Digital Innovators Network blog posts (you can read the first one here).
The second meeting of the Network was held last Friday in the Shared Resource Centre in Blaenafon, South Wales.
The theme for this network meeting was Open Data, something which I had heard of but knew very little about. I was pleasantly surprised at the beginning that the vast majority of the network attendees had very little experience or knowledge of open data!
So to the day itself. The day took the form of a training session by the Open Data Institute and the main trainer, Ben Cave, really knew his subject matter. The acid test for me was that, despite starting my car journey at 6am that morning, I was fully awake and engaged throughout the day (no small feat!) and was still buzzing with ideas after the 3 and a half hour drive back up North. I came away with a better understanding of open data, how it can work, some of the pitfalls, the need to use a license when offering open data and some wider considerations around the use of open data.
The two stand out quotes from the day for me were:
- ‘Data is a means, not an end’.
- ‘Don’t think of data purely as numbers’.
A few other interesting things to point out:
- Members of the Digital Innovators Network are predominantly sharing/networking through Slack. This is the first time I’ve used Slack properly and I have to say it is working really well (and saves on excessive Emails!);
- There is a really wide range of digital representatives in the network, including health, local authority, education, welsh government, housing associations and third sector;
- I can already tick the ‘learning new skills and knowledge’ aim for being a network member.
In terms of open data, I would have to confess that despite having the full days training around this, I would need to do a lot more reading around the subject before I could suggest an open data project within my organisation. Thankfully, the Open Data Institute have a lot of handy information on their website, including the really useful ‘Open Data in a Day‘ slides.
For one thing, I will be keeping a look out for any open data project successes from the Housing sector, as this will certainly help bridge the gap between the idea of open data and the results it can give. This also ties in with a much wider conversation going on currently within Housing and beyond about the use, relevance and validity of the data we hold.
Definitely food for thought!