26 SEPTEMBER 2013

 Attended by:

Chair Ardavan Amin              (Birmingham City University)

Susannah Goh             (Birmingham Science City)

Gavin Broughton          (Data Analyst)

Chris Price                  Digiconsultancy Ltd

Andrew McKenzie         (Open Mercia)

Heike Schuster-James   (Digital Birmingham)


Simon Whitehouse       (Open Data Specialist)

Don Dhaliwal               (BIP)

  1. Susannah Goh was welcomed to the steering group as the representative of Birmingham Science City (BSC) in line with the agreement between AA and Pam Waddell, its Director.  Susannah welcomed the opportunity to align the activities of the BSC Digital Working Group on open data to the development of the West Midlands Open Data Forum.
  1. The background of the Forum was outlined, tracing its emergence from the roadmap created by the Birmingham Smart City Commission to be delivered by Digital Birmingham and the existing activities of groups like Open Mercia and events such as Hackathons.  AA had been asked to bring together and chair a steering group whose aim was to create a Forum for open data activities in Birmingham and the West Midlands with a particular focus on data usage for community development, service improvement or economic purposes.  The current foci of the steering group were to create the forum and its terms of reference, support open data projects, particularly the creation of a suitable platform, and build an inclusive network of interested and relevant organisations and individuals.
  1. AM introduced a specific issue which demonstrated a role for the forum in guiding the release of data by public service owners.  He welcomed the progress of Birmingham City Council in generating strategy and policy documents and pressing for the release of more data.  However, its recent revamp of the release of the £500 spending data as required by national policy had been implemented in such a way as to lessen the openness of the data.  AM referred to national guidance and the use of the open government licence which had not been used by Birmingham.  Other Councils such as Lichfield had released the data in line with national guidance and supporting the access by data users.  Unfortunately, the new release was less open than the previous implementation by the Council.

On behalf of Birmingham City Council, HS-J of Digital Birmingham recognised the steering group’s concerns and agreed to raise them with the appropriate functions within the Council.  She agreed to report back her progress at the next meeting on 9th October.

  1. Open Data Platform – HS-J outlined the progress towards establishing a platform.  Digital Birmingham was still negotiating with DCMS re use of the broadband fund.  A business case with clear sustainability was required and a tender would be released soon to create this.  This tender would recognise the importance of the views of the local open data user community.  In the interim, Digital Birmingham had accepted the steering group recommendation to use the existing functionality of CKAN ( and were seeking approval within the City Council to commission this.
  1. Terms of reference of WMODF.  Several papers and mind maps had previously been generated and discussed and currently a Google doc was in use to collect the combined views of the steering group.  The group agreed that this was a positive and useful document and that improvement would continue by additions and amendments to the draft with the aim of creating a version to be agreed as a working document on 9th October.  Through discussion, it was established that although the current focus was on working with Birmingham City Council to release their data on their open platform, the forum would be available to organisations and individuals across the West Midlands area and would cover both open and closed (restricted) data sets.  It would encourage and advise data owners across the public sector, its contractors and the business community.

It was stressed that the current steering group was working to generate the basis for a forum which would be open, transparent and inclusive.  The formal launch of the forum is likely to be early 2014, with activities and networking establishing its role in the intervening period.  To this end, notes of steering group meetings would be published, networks used to publicise the work underway and the forum linked to open data events in the locality.  DD to be approached to start to populate the website.

  1. 6.   Updates

The Smart City Alliance was developing and intended to publish its terms of reference by the end of October.  There was discussion about the role and membership of the Alliance, its relationship to the Smart City Commission and how it might relate to WMODF.  AA was soon to meet Dr David Hardman, Innovation Birmingham, and would attempt to clarify the issues and report back.

HS-J reported that there would be progress on the Smart City roadmap.  There may be an announcement about the open data platform at the NESTA event on 24th October and a Smart City event in January.  She agreed to consider including information on WMODF as appropriate.

There was continuing progress re bids for open data projects both through BCU and BSC.  Updates will be reported to future meetings as appropriate.

SG agreed that WMODF should present to a future meeting of the BSC Digital Working Group.

  1. Next meeting to be arranged for 9th October at BCU, Millennium Point.





Birmingham Science City joined steering group



Investigate and report back re Birmingham City Council release of £500 spending data


9 Oct

Release of tender for open data platform business case


End Oct

Update on CKAN implementation


9 Oct

Improvement to Terms of Reference Google doc


9 Oct

Update on role of and links to the Smart City Alliance


9 Oct

Website to be populated and report back to the steering group


9 Oct

WMODF to be incorporated into activities


As & when

Updates of ESRC and other funding bids



9 Oct

  1. 10.
Notes of steering group meetings to be made


9 Oct

  1. 11.
WMODF to be an agenda item on a future BSC Digital Working Group


By early

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