Open Data: Fuel for decision-making

Hampshire County Council regularly hosts an event called ‘Informing Hampshire’, the latest of which was on Friday 24th October. The theme this time was “Open Data: Fuel for decision-making”, and around a hundred people were treated to a fabulous line-up of speakers, each bringing their own perspective on open data.


James Strachan, who heads up Hampshire County Council’s Research and Intelligence Unit, gave a brief Introduction to Informing Hampshire, including an overview of the agenda for the morning.

The New Hampshire Hub

bill roberts
Bill Roberts of Swirrl introducing the new Hampshire Hub

The first major presentation of the morning was a double-act by Mark Braggins, who is leading the Hampshire Hub initiative on behalf of the partnership, and Bill Roberts, who is the CEO of Linked Open Data specialists Swirrl.

The presentation is entitled The ‘New’ Hampshire Hub.

The new site replaces ‘Protohub’, and includes a variety of new features as part of the robust ‘Data Store’ which is built on Linked Open Data.

The National View

Ollie Buckley
Ollie Buckley giving the national perspective on open data

The second major presentation of the morning was by Ollie Buckley, Deputy Director, and Jemma Insall, Head of Strategy and Stakeholder Engagement at the Cabinet Office.

Ollie focused on the National picture, whilst Jemma focused on local open data initiatives in their presentation entitled National and Local Open Data.

Ollie sees open data being used in several different ways:

  • Economic growth: businesses using Open Data to create value
  • Accountability: open data shining a light on government decisions, enabling citizens to hold politicians and public bodies to account
  • Improving public services: by surfacing opportunities for greater efficiency, enabling citizens to make more informed choices about the services they use

Jemma explained that Cabinet Office Local Open Data efforts concentrate in three areas

  • National Engagement – including innovative examples such as the DCLG’s Open Data Communities initiative, the Open Data Demand Survey, and
  • Local Engagement, including bringing together the leaders of different local open data initiatives, including (to list just a few) TraffordLeedsDevonCambridgeshire, Redbridge, Lambeth, and Glasgow
  • Funding Open Data Projects, working with other national organisations, including the DCLG, LGA and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Business perspectives

The third slot brought two different perspectives from local businesses:

Nick Allott

Nick Allott is Managing Director of UBIAPPS and NquiringMinds. Nick introduced the Open City Data Platform, which is a management platform, from which the essential data and processes within a smart city can be controlled, using easy to use web based technologies.

Nick has expressed an active interest in the Hampshire Hub, and has offered resources to help the hub evolve, particularly where there are opportunities to address ‘real-life’ problems through data.

Chris Cooper

Chris said that BlueLightCamp and Hampshire Hub inspired Wudowud

Chris Cooper co-founded Know Now Information and he also chairs Digital South, an action group of Business South. Chris is leading an exciting initiative called ‘Weather You Do or Whether You Don’t’ aka Wudowud.

Wudowud draws together data from a variety of sources (like the Met Office,Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, and Environment Agency) and seeks to analyse the environmental conditions leading up to weather-related ‘events’ (like flooding), and identify the ‘triggers’ for those events.

Wudowud aims eventually to provide real-time predictive analytics for the improved deployment of emergency resources according to environmental conditions. The results of the Wudowud analysis will be shared back through the Hampshire Hub with an open licence.

The Graphical Web

Alan Smith OBE, who heads up the Data Visualisation Centre for the Office for National Statistics (ONS) then talked through an impressive array of data visualisations. He began by using the ONS’ own “How well do you know your area?” quiz, which uses 2011 Census Key and Quick Statistics to test how well you really know your local area. It’s an excellent blend of game-playing and data visualisation based on open data.

Screenshot from
Screenshot from (click to launch)

Several of the examples Alan used were drawn from The Graphical Web conference, which this year was held in Winchester. The Graphical Web was recorded by John Wilson, and all of the presentations are available to view on John’s YouTube channel.

One of the examples Alan used was – an animated map of global wind and weather, created by Cameron Beccario.

It took great skill and a lot of hard work to create the visualisations, but it simply wouldn’t have been possible had the underlying data not been made available.

Open Data and Open Decisions

mark frankNext up was Mark Frank who gave a fascinating insight into the research he has been conducting on how how open data affects the relationship between citizen and government in the UK.

Mark has conducted over 30 interviews with publishers and users of local open data. His talk was entitled Open Data and Open Decisions.

The power of looking at the differences

Screenshot of a Tweet showing a map of bus stops and food hygiene certificates for public housesThe final talk of the morning was given by Chris Gutteridge from the University of Southampton.

Chris runs the University of Southampton’s own Open Data Service, and was one of the first people to take a copy of Hampshire’s Aerial Photography open data, and has found all sorts of ways to visualise it.

Chris talked through a wide variety of examples, including some of the work that the University has been doing with open data for its own campus as in the example below.

Screenshot 2014-11-23 13.27.51
University of Southampton Linked Open Data Map (click the image to open the site)



About This Post

The Author

Founder of the Hampshire Hub initiative on behalf of the Hampshire Hub Partnership.


Leave a Reply