What does Open Data mean for Leeds?

Published on behalf of Sandip Ghattaure, Leeds Data Mill

With decreasing resources and funds, we have to evolve. Publishing data on a shared platform for an army of developers and analysts to tap into is one way of being open, honest and attracting investment into the city.

Open Data is not just a council or government priority. The private sector, third sector, educational institutes and many others all stand to gain from working together to make their data open for all to use. The services they build on this data in turn benefit everyone in the city.

Since the creation of the Leeds Data Mill nearly a year ago, we've seen the number of datasets published grow and grow. People re-use data in a variety of ways. One developer made comparisons between the historical national flood data from the Environment Agency, and the planning permission approvals from Leeds City Council. The results showed that Leeds City Council doesn't approve building on flood plains. We`ve also seen civic participation with projects such as ‘Leeds Art Crawl’, a novel app which allows people to tweet photographs of what they consider to be public art. This is helping to create a detailed dataset of public artwork in the region which has never been available before.

We actively welcome community participation. We’ve held increasingly popular Leeds Hack events, where developers, data holders and interested members of the public work together using open data to find solutions and improvements to service delivery.

So what’s next? Leeds Data Mill now publishes over 100 datasets from a variety of organisations, but we still have a long way to go. We want the Data Mill to be the first port of call for anyone who has a query or interest in Leeds data. We want developers to be able to design apps and websites using this data, ideally creating jobs in the process. We want analysts to be able to use the data to help others understand ‘the story of Leeds’. Finally, we want the private sector to be able to benefit from the extra advertising opportunities that openness brings, which we hope will ultimately bring further investment into the city.

We believe open data benefits all of us but that we can only achieve these benefits by all of us working together. The Leeds Data Mill has been created to facilitate this.

Want to learn more about the Leeds Data Mill? Drop Sandip a line at:

07712 216291
2FW leeds Civic Hall, Calverley Street, Leeds, LS1

w: www.leeds.gov.uk/opendata
w: www.leedsdatamill.org

New map feature for statistical datasets

We have just released a new feature for our dataset pages: a thematic map or 'choropleth', illustrating how the data varies across geographical regions. This is part of our ongoing commitment to improving access to and understanding of our data.

This tool gives users a quick visual first impression of geographical variations in each dataset (see the Household interim projections dataset for an example of this - the map is displayed below the table). You can set the values of the non-geographic dimensions; for example, which time period you are interested in, and then the tool will shade the relevant region accordingly.

More enhancements to this feature will be coming soon, as will further geographical tools for selecting and viewing our data.

The development of this new feature of Swirrl's PublishMyData platform was sponsored jointly by DCLG and the EU funded OpenCube project.

DCLG opens up digital geography as web and linked data services

Published on behalf of Simon Roberts

We know that you, our users, prefer our data when it can be easily visualised and mapped - our deprivation and wellbeing mappers are consistently the most popular pages on OpenDataCommunities. We have therefore begun to open up more of our geographical data in ways that you can download and use over the internet.

As well as this ambition, we also have a legal obligation to make some of our geographic datasets openly available to set standards under the EU INSPIRE directive.

Firstly, we’ve loaded several of our geographic datasets on to the UK’s proposed open source solution for INSPIRE-compliant web services, Geoserver. These include greenbelt boundaries and enterprise zone sites. The datasets are now being made available as viewable ‘web map’ and downloadable ‘web feature’ services, all linked together by their metadata records on data.gov.uk. We can easily update these as and when required.

We are also using this new tool for making many other geographic datasets available over the internet for various web application and interactive visualisations. See Steve Peters’ personal blog for some examples.

Secondly, we’ve created a tool that turns some of these geographic datasets into linked data.

These were published in October and we hope that our users will begin to start using them to create things like this web application.

Is there extra functionality you’d like to see? Or other geographic datasets you want us to publish in this way? Do share your thoughts in the comments below or by email at ODC@communities.gsi.gov.uk.

Explore our new National Planning Casework data

In another pioneering move from OpenDataCommunities, we’re pleased to launch a new mapping app for the National Planning Casework Unit’s (NPCU) data.

The NPCU was set up in March 2011 to manage planning decisions on behalf of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. More information on its responsibilities can be found here.

By releasing this data, we hope to provide an open and accessible insight into the NPCU’s casework and increase the information available in the public domain. In part we hope this will reduce the number of external requests for information we receive but more exciting encourage new and innovative uses of our data alongside other third-party planning resources.

The app is based on decision data from April 2014 onwards for Consultation Directions, Third Party Requests to Intervene, Compulsory Purchase Orders and Environmental Impact Assessments. Using the interactive map you can quickly find which parts of the country the NPCU has considered cases from, the types of case it has considered, the decisions taken and where in the country the cases were decided.

There’s also another tool to show the number of cases overall which can be broken down by decision.

You can also find information about how many cases we’ve considered across all case types since the NPCU was set up in March 2011 here.

We appreciate that there’s more we can do to make our data more accessible and improve what insight it gives. We’re already looking at ways to improve this and welcome your thoughts, so please leave your comments below or email us at ODC@communities.gsi.gov.uk.