• Project Description
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Community Data Explorer

"Councils now publish data on all expenditure over £500, but this is often difficult to analyse and understand."

What is the project challenge?

With the government’s push towards localism – such as the right to build, communities need to understand publicly available data before they can make informed decisions. For
example Councils now publish data on all expenditure over £500, but this is often difficult to analyse and understand. Community Data Explorer will demystify this available open data, working with a rural community, to find ways of visualising information, to help shape how their public services are delivered.

Who are involved?

Cybermoor – a community-based co-operative, Swirrl – a Manchester-based open data specialist company, and academics and PhD students from Lancaster University.

What new digital technology is developing?

Community Data Explorer will create an app to enable the community of Alston moor and other rural communities to analyse data and take control of their local services and assets.
The project will explore possibilities for delivering services differently and enable citizens to develop new skills to improve the workforce. Through the project local residents will identify priority data sets in the community, obtain access to the data, clean the data and develop an API (application programming interface). These apps will form the heart of a
“Community Data Explorer” app for local authorities.

What are the intended impacts?

Visualising public data in compelling ways can make community members more aware of the possibility of delivering new services. By developing a greater understanding of data and analysis, citizens can develop new skills, understanding what data is available, and what they can expect to achieve.

Prof. Jon Whittle

Jon is a Professor in the School of Computing and Communications.  He is interested in using digital technologies to break down barriers and has worked on a number of digital innovation projects, for example, crowdsourcing local opinions on public safety (voiceyourview.com), serendipity in the digital world (serena.ac.uk), and digital technologies for managing work/life balance (digitalbrainswitch.org.uk)

Position: Principal Investigator, Catalyst Project team, Management Group and Advisory Group Chair

Website: www.jonwhittle.org


Daniel Heery, Project manager

The project is being lead by Cybermoor, a community co-operative which has a third of households as members.  Its board of Directors are drawn from the local community.  Members of the community will carry out the community engagement work.  Cybermoor focuses on rural digital inclusion – providing communities with tools and content to get people online and give them the tools to shape the way local services are delivered.  We see open data as a big opportunity for rural communities as it can help them shape how their public services are delivered.  Coupled with the government’s push towards localism – such as the right to build, communities need to understand publicly available data before they make decisions.

They have 11 years experience of working with beneficiaries on a wide range of digital inclusion projects including telehealth deployments and community journalism. The Cybermoor website is one of the most actively used community sites in the UK and has over 10,000 hits/month. They train residents in web publishing so they can contribute directly to the website.  In previous similar projects Cybermoor have worked with Cumbria County Council’s Highways Dept to get hold of data about gritting wagon locations, following interest from a number of members of the community, including how this could be visualised.  They are currently working on action research projects with Newcastle University (SALT) and Kingston University.

Website : Cybermoor Ltd

Ric Roberts, Technical Partner

Swirrl are a Manchester based open data specialist that is working with Department for Communities and Local Government and the Open Data Institute.  They bring state of the art understanding of open data and how it can be accessed and visualised.  They have extensive experience of a wide range of public sector data sets.  Swirrl have worked with a rural local authorities (Aberdeenshire) on traffic data and have already worked on data from Eden District Council using local data.

Website :  Swirrl

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