JUNE MEETING NOTES

NOTES OF WEST MIDLANDS OPEN DATA FORUM STEERING GROUP   WEDNESDAY, 24TH JUNE 2015

Attended by:         Susannah Goh – Chair                    (B’ham Science City)

Paul Beckley                                 (Centro)

Andrew McKenzie                          (Open Mercia)

Pauline Roche                               (RnR Organisation)

Ted Ryan                                     (RnR Organisation)

Hugo Russell                                (Innovation Birmingham)

Stuart Lester                                (Digital Birmingham)

Chris Price (Secretary)                    (digiconsultancy)

Apologies:           Bethan Bishop                              (Heart of England NHS Trust)

  1. Matters Arising

Notes of the last meeting agreed.  Susannah Goh agreed to contact Rick Robinson re links.  Placement opportunities were still being reviewed.

  1. Member’s Updates

HR – The iCentrum building is on schedule for completion in March 2016.  A further building at the front of Faraday Wharf will be built by July 2016 to house university spin‑outs.  The Innovation Engine project finishes soon.  A follow‑up proposal for funding is awaiting a decision at the end of July.  Open Data features within the new proposal.

PR – The training activities went well and RnR is planning sessions for September.  Through Open Mercia, a bid was being made for next year’s Open Data Camp to be held at iCentrum.  RnR is working in Digbeth looking at digital footprints aiming to link social enterprises to problems identified by community groups.  The aim is to support active communities through a developed app that people purchase.

PB – Centro links to iCentrum are fairly complete.  The process of building support for the release of data continues.  The concept of ‘Fail Fast’ had been introduced at a staff conference with the aim of facilitating tech start‑ups to generate innovation.  This should encourage middle managers to see the benefits of releasing data.  It would be helpful to have some successful local examples based on achieving ‘low‑hanging fruit’ that does not take much of their time and does not distract significantly from their workaday activities.  Of course, there is the success of Transport for London, but they have the benefit of control of operators which Centro do not have.  It is difficult to convince middle managers of the advantage of the release of data that they own and another barrier is the reliance on existing procedures ( aka ‘we’ve always done it this way’).  There is a need for cultural change and that needs backing from the top – fortunately this is in place for Centro.

SL – He reported that Heike Schuster‑James would not be the representative of Birmingham City Council for WMODF in the future; she has moved to the City Council’s Future Council project.  Unfortunately, there is no Chief Information Officer in Birmingham City Council- something which makes data leadership more difficult.  However, there may be an opportunity to address this when the Combined Authority (CA) is formed.  SL is now responsible for the digital academy and digital infrastructure vouchers and continues to lead on the open data platform.  On this last project, the focus is on the release of 20‑25 data sets from the Contact Centre linked through the GIS system.

Action:    SL agreed to share this list of data sets.

There was discussion with Amey about the release of data relating to city assets such as trees and street lighting and, in future, bollards and parking.  The Open Data Factory platform is scheduled for a launch in September.  In October there is Brum Hack at the University of Birmingham.  There is a hope that the use of the Open Data Factory will be linked to hack events.  The Factory can hold cross‑institution data as some of the most beneficial outcomes can emerge from these areas, e.g. links between Fire Service information and fly tipping, deprivation and weather data can lead to some great projects with real social and economic impact.  The activity across local authorities had a wide range; in the West Midlands the position is not clear: Wolverhampton is using the Redbridge solution, Ravi Kumar has been leading for the Black Country.  The challenge for the Combined Authority will be to justify bringing the data together – can sustainable outcomes be identified?  There is an issue with the data across authority boundaries – Centro has responsibility across the region so has a track record in this area.

Action:    PB to contact SL re cross‑boundary GIS data.

A discussion arose about the opportunity for West Midlands open data because of the formation of a Combined Authority.  What are the characteristics of an institution that is successful in its release of open data?  Issues such as leadership, policy, finance, contracts, ethos were mentioned by the group.  Could/should WMODF work to influence the approach of the Combined Authority?  This discussion should continue and thoughts and practical directions should be shared in future meetings as this is something we need to watch.

Action: Progress on the changing local and regional public governance, policy and economic development landscapes to become a regular agenda item.

TR – There was a lot of data around in the health sector, for example Healthy Villages (collected by Sam German’s team at Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust).  There is a need to link multi‑level data covering national agencies such as Age Concern to local organisations and collaboratives such as the Balsall Heath Forum.  The EIT Health Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) West Midlands Executive Team (contacts www.wmahsn.org / tony.davis@wmahsn.org) is fielding EIT health KIC project proposals for ‘innovation push and pull’ projects.  Open data and big data projects could be eligible in future rounds of bidding.

SG – Birmingham Science City is currently undertaking its 3‑yearly review; there will be a discussion of this at the Digital Working Group next Monday (29/6).  SG has been working on an EIT Health KIC portfolio that focusses on the triple helix of education, health outcomes and business generation.  One of the key aims of this ‘KIC’ is to increase the innovation and wealth creation potential of SMEs.  Annother contact for the EIT is SG’s colleague, Paddie Murphy (paddie.murphy@wmahsn.org and paddie@plmcs.co.uk).  Paddie will be the contact for stakeholder management once SG moves on from Birmingham Science City and the West Midlands Academic Health Science network (see below).

SG will be taking up the post of Director of the Institute for Health and Quality of Life, at Birmingham City University (susannah.goh@bcu.ac.uk), from early July 2015.  She proposed to the group that she step down as Chair of WMODF after the next meeting.  She would be happy to continue to support WMODF and open data, but will need to determine, once in post, how much she can continue to bring to the group in terms of useful opportunities, as her role will no longer cover ‘digital’ and ‘open data’ as headline priorities.

Action: All to consider volunteering as the next Chair of WMODF.  This to be resolved at the next meeting.

SG led the group in recognising the great input of Heike to WMODF throughout its development and agreed to communicate our thanks to her.

AM – has been working on the Climate Change KIC, putting zero carbon planning into practice with a particular focus on housing.  He is considering a data app for asthma and will follow up contacts referred to in this meeting.

AOB

  • SG to distribute questionnaire re next meeting dates with the aim of early/mid‑September.
  • PR agreed to examine a link between WMODF and the Smart City Alliance.
  • SL would encourage the open data contacts in other LAs to contact/get engaged with WMODF – emails to chrisprice748@gmail.com.
  • CP expressed interest in collating guidance for the new Combined Authority and open data, based on what had worked so far – a potential item for the next agenda.

Actions:

  • SL agreed to share his list of data sets.
  • PB to contact SL re cross‑boundary GIS data.
  • All to consider volunteering as next Chair of WMODF ‑ to be resolved at the next meeting.
  • SG to write to thank Heike Schuster‑James for her contributions on behalf of WMODF.
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