This is a statement from West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), requested by WMODF to follow up on our published request for their views on open data from each of the Mayoral candidates before the Metro Mayor election last year.

We published the candidates responses to our request at our Open Data Day event ‘Open wide: Open Data Day 2017 in the West Midlands’ last year.

This year, to coincide with this year’s Open Data Day event Data Dig: civil society and open data (postponed due to the snow), we requested an update from WMCA, which they have kindly provided below:

“The WMCA recognises the value and the opportunities that open data offers to SMEs and entrepreneurs (and many others) to create new solutions and applications that will help to address region-wide challenges. It is looking to build on the excellent work that has already been started in the region.  In particular, collaborating closely with the local authorities in the region, so that there is a consistent approach to open data, is crucial. This will ensure that such data is available in a consistent and coordinated fashion. It will build on existing assets such as the Birmingham Data factory, the Big Data Corridor and the Transport for West Midlands (“TfWM”) data platform that are already making almost 300 datasets available to developers and data enthusiasts. It has opened up transport data through free to use APIs – a prime example being with bus and tram real-time information data that has been opened up to the likes of Google, Apple and CityMapper to use. An example of the collaboration with local authorities is the work that has also been done with Birmingham City Council to release traffic management data for smaller scale hackathons, challenges, university research – with a continuing focus on how this can be expanded and further opened up going forward.

A key part of this overall approach is in ensuring the WMCA has the right structures in place to drive this agenda forward in a manner that is collaborative and does not duplicate with existing work already ongoing in the region. The first stage of this was to set up a WMCA Digital Board last year, whose role it is to develop and deliver the regional digital strategy, working closely with the region’s local authorities and wider digital network, of which the WMODF is part. The WMCA is also currently recruiting for a Chief Digital Officer for the region, who will, as part of his/her role, be responsible for the focus on data. There are numerous digital stakeholders across the region, and a key objective of the Digital Board is to bring these groups together effectively, so that the region is more joined up on matters that are best addressed regionally – of which data is a good example. The Digital Board has recently set up a data and smart cities task force, whose role it will be to accelerate the release of open data from city systems and drive consistency towards this agenda across the region. Engagement with corporate partners has also continued, to better understand how the approach to open data should be developed, an example of that being recent discussions that those partners have had with TfWM, to look at transport data. The Digital Board is also engaging with individual local authorities, to better understand their own approach to open data, and consider how, across the region, it can support a move towards a more consistent and broad approach to open data.”

We welcome this statement and we will be discussing it at our next steering group meeting on March 21st at Innovation Birmingham – details and agenda here.

If you have an interest in open data and you wish to be invited to our meetings, please use the contact form on the website

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