Wanted – Open Data practitioners to work with Charities for an ‘Open data-day’

The following guest post is by Ed Anderton from the Nominet Trust, who provide support to organisations to increase access to the internet, online safety and education.


The Nominet Trust is providing funding for a set of 10 ‘data-days’ with a range of UK Charities – more details of our offer to Charities can be found here.
We’re looking for Open Data experts to match with these Charities: ideally we’re after a combination of experience of building open data applications and working with civil society organisations. So far we’ve had expressions of interest from Charities in the South-West, West Midlands, North-West, East of England and the South-East, so it would be great to find Open Data experts based in different parts of the country.
Tim Davies from Practical Participation has kindly put together some helpful guidance for Charities (see below) on how they might best use an ‘open data-day’: this is also intended to give you a good idea of what the role of the open data consultant may involve.

I am managing the project and will be providing support throughout, including setting objectives, drawing up contracts and documenting what happens on each of the 10 days.

If you are interested please drop me an email or find me on Twitter – @ejanderton


###Planning an Open Data Exploration Day

How can open data make a difference to the charity sector?

An open data day offers a quick-fire way to find out, and is designed to identify how charities can be both publishers and users of open data, giving you the skills to understand, work with and make the most of open data.

The dataset route:

  • You identify a dataset created or owned by your organisation that you want to do more with. This could be details of members of your networks; data from a survey you conduct; performance statistics; a research dataset you have put together; or any other dataset used in your day-to-day work.

  • You work with the ‘open data day’ consultant to identify the potential value of publishing this as open data; to practical steps involved; and the ways it could be used. For some datasets (where there are no personal data or rights issues to deal with), it might be possible to publish them right away, either for a limited pilot just on the day itself, or as a new open data release that you will continue to work with. (For example, the consultant could work with you to release data that was previously published as tables in a written report that were not easy to re-use.)

  • You work to create some rapid prototypes based on this data, demonstrating the potential of its open release.This could involve the consultant providing hands-on training to a small team of staff in using freely available open data tools like Google Refine and Fusion Tables (for creating maps and bubble charts), or Tableau (for in depth data visualisation). Alternatively, you could challenge your consultant to spend a few hours working on a rapid prototype using more advanced computer programming approaches to present back to you an example of open data possibilities.

  • At the end of the day you present the results to your colleagues. You might have a new sustainable product, or just a prototype. The learning from the day will be captured in a report which provides a draft roadmap for future explorations of open data in the organisation, and giving a case study of the potential of open data publishing.

The issue route

  • You identify an issue you are working on where open data from government or civil society could be useful to your work.
  • The open data day consultant works with you to locate open data sources that relate to this issue.
  • You work together to create some rapid prototypes showing how this data can be accessed, explored and analysed using open data tools.
  • You explore ways to build these sources of open data into your day-to-day work and identify a draft strategy for making more use of open data sources.

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