Help us build an open data community

Open Data Scrabble photo by justgrimes (Flickr)

Open data is great, isn’t it? Instead of locking away lovely information in dusty databases, why not let it be free and flourish?

Government organisations have already got the idea. Take Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and its amazing open data programme with thousands of datasets available.

Transport for London has put open data at the heart of what it does to promote the re-use of its data in order to help the travelling public. It has been estimated that this has boosted London’s economy by £130m per annum.

So how do we get to that sort of environment in Oxford?

The advice we’ve had from those in the know is “start by talking to the community”. So this is the conversation we want to kick off…

Where we are now

We’ve got some of the building blocks in place already:

  • Smart Oxford, a city-wide group of partners, is committed to making open data part of its plans
  • An open data platform, Oxfordshire Open Data has been set up and has a healthy number of open datasets already
  • Oxford City Council has made a commitment to publish open data as part of its Digital Strategy and is starting to use open data standards like 360Giving for its Grants data

What we don’t have is a group of people that are excited and passionate about open data that are willing to give their time and advice, share experiences and generally get stuff done.

Other open data communities

There are great examples of community-led approaches to open data in other parts of the country:

  • Bristol has a thriving Open Data community of over 250 members
  • Bath: Hacked is a joint council/community initiative that aims to put open data and smart thinking at the heart of the city.
  • Open Data Institute (ODI) Nodes have been established from thriving community bases in places like Devon and Leeds

So why don’t we start something like this in Oxford?

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