ATTENDED BY:         Pauline Roche – Chair              (RnR Organisation)

Heike Schuster‑James              (BCU)

Teresa Jolley                          (DEFT153)

Glyn Simpson                          (TfWM)

Simon Whitehouse                   (Data Unlocked)

Si Chun Lam                           (Coventry CC)

Darren Wright                         (Inside Outcomes)

Ted Ryan                               (RnR Organisation)

Charlotte Johns                       (Wolverhampton CC)

Laura Collings                         (Wolverhampton CC)

Gordon Telling                        (Sustainable Freight Solutions)

Nathan Coyle                          (New Union)

Gareth Davies                         (Databrew)

Chloe King                              (Sandwell MBC)

Heather Clarke                        (Wolverhampton CC)

Ravi Kumar                            (Black Country Consortium)

Chris Price – Secretary             (digiconsultancy)

APOLOGIES:             Hugo Russell                           (Innovation Birmingham)

Raj Mack                                (BCC, Digital Birmingham)

PR thanked Charlotte and Laura representing Wolverhampton CC for hosting this meeting in such a splendid building and for the post-meeting refreshments which were to be provided.

  1. The Notes of the last meeting of 23 May 2018 were agreed.

Peter Bishop had confirmed he was currently the Birmingham City Council representative, Raj Mack was no longer the lead for Open Data.

DW reported that there had been no release of burial data by Birmingham City Council as yet.  He will follow this up.

Action:    DW to contact BCC re burial data.


Open Data Events:  Hack the Midlands 2018 was planned for 3rd/4th November.  PR offered the group an invitation to a pre‑meeting (date TBC) to be better informed about the event.

Voluntary sector trends: checking the data – 17th September, 6.30‑8.30 pm in the Impact Hub, Birmingham, an event organised by RnR Organisation with Karl Wilding about NCVO Civil Society Alamanac and Pauline Broomhead of The Foundation for Social Improvement Small Charity Index about Civil Society Data.

The next Open Data camp will be held in Aberdeen 3rd/4th November.

On 14th November, in Library of Birmingham/Birmingham Rep, RnR Organisation is one of the partner organisations (alongside Data Orchard (Lead partner), 360GivingDataKind UKNCVONew Philanthropy CapitalTech TrustThe Operational Research Society, and The Royal Statistical Society) in the first UK Data 4 Good conference. WMODF members can declare an interest and register for early-bird notification by completing a survey here

ODI Node:  There had been a steering group meeting on 22nd June.  

Summary from Hugo Russell:

  • 17 July Meeting with ODI Creative team and BOM Birmingham Open Media
    • Looking to use open data that addresses community needs through a collaborative process and engages citizens.
    • Not interested in surveillance or transport data sets
    • Most interested in benefitting people with sensory needs
    • Initial prototype/concept will be presented at ODI summit on 20 November
    • Final output(s) by March 2019
  • ODI Summit on 20 November. ODI members get 35% off the price
  • ODI Node steering group meeting on 22 June

Website:  There had been 585 accesses since the last meeting.  A brief discussion resulted in a request for some more analytics of the website and twitter account at the next meeting.

Action:    PR to bring Twitter analytics and CP/DW website data to the next meeting.


CJ and LC presented aspects of the Wolverhampton Smart City Framework.  Their presentation is on the website (  The Wolverhampton approach had five building blocks of data, connectivity, people, services, and development and 3 priorities, namely, open data platform, city centre broadband and a hackathon.  They had not constructed a detailed smart city strategy preferring to get on with these priorities.

They had received £4.9m to create a full fibre network to 196 public sites and were considering how to take advantage of the replacement programme of smart city lighting.  They are developing their open platform, Insight using Power BI, for which phase 1 will be launched at the end of July.  It was suggested that the data site should have a redirection from  The initiative has been welcomed internally and they are building links with the University of Wolverhampton (see presentation for examples of outputs).  In phase 2 they plan to increase the availability of open data by the end of the year.

They had developed an analysis of hackathons (see presentation) which was used to explain the spectrum from innovation‑based to technology‑based.  This analysis was discussed and welcomed by group members who recommended that organisers should shape hacks around the outcomes they want but need to recognise that participants have different motivation and skills.  Skilled helpers were needed.  There are helpful videos re hacks on YouTube and a blogpost about finding them here.  WMODF has experience with hacks and data dives so should we try to gather resources to be widely accessible?  RK agreed to discuss the creation of a hack video with the Black Country consortium.  TR suggested hacks could be linked to industry events.

Action:    WMODF to consider feasibility of building ‘hack resources’ at future meeting.

In discussion further points emerged:

  • Wolverhampton University holds an annual data fest – the last one being 13‑15 February this year. For next year WCC hopes to provide data and pose challenges.  It is hoped that the university will share the city platform and provide data.
  • They are developing an initiative ‘Hack the Parks’, aiming to engage local people in improving parks.
  • A major redevelopment of the metro and train station would provide opportunities to develop electronic communications.
  • The improvement of the intranet was increasing staff engagement, eg formation of a digital creators’ club, public education opportunities in libraries.
  • Wolverhampton has a strong community voluntary sector which promotes digital skills but public skills are low despite the pressures of benefit changes, eg Universal Credit.
  • Some data experts don’t have great people skills

Discussion focused on regional issues and Wolverhampton were linked into the Black Country Smart City network.  Sandwell was developing networking and it was agreed to hold the November meeting there, probably at the Oldbury site.

Action:    NC/CK to progress meeting in Sandwell in November.

Public data literacy is part of the WMCA skills plan which was being progressed at local level.


PR introduced the response by data scientist Tom Forth (TF) to the consultation by the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation.  The deadline was 5th September. TF has since had a brief chat with the Director – he says point 1 about the EU is fine – they’d not deliberately left it out, and they’re aware EU law mattered. Point 3 about being open and transparent – agreed. Point 2 on the importance of location – a less positive response. TF says we could do with some more voices making that point. He’s spoken to a few people who said that the idea of putting it near the ICO would convince some people. The meeting was supportive of Tom’s points, especially the need to locate centres of expertise outside London.  It was agreed that it would be useful to generate a WMODF response and the target for this was Friday, 24th August.

Action:    SW to set up a Google doc and PR to circulate invitation to contribute to HS‑J, TJ, SW, TR for response by 24th August.


PR briefly explored the progress on the action plan produced at a previous meeting and published on the website.  Already there had been significant change, such as the location of meetings across the West Midlands which had added considerable value.  Following the next meeting in Birmingham in September and in Sandwell in November, RK suggested approaching Worcestershire for a meeting in, for example, Malvern.  NC suggested making links with Dudley which is a vanguard for mental health.

Action:    RK to approach his contacts in Worcs CC re hosting a meeting in 2019.

In terms of topics for meetings, TJ offered to organise a transport theme if requested.  RK mentioned a local authority project which might be of wider interest across the region, ie Smart Gullies.

It was agreed to continue with meetings of 2 hours on Wednesdays during the working day, ie 11.00‑13.00.  The plan would be revisited at the next meeting with an aim to link actions to individuals.

Actions:   CP to put action plan onto the agenda of the next meeting.
PR to link to Coventry and Birmingham re bidding for a future Open Data camp.
TJ to approach ODI Birmingham re name change, eg to ODI West Midlands.


HS‑J mentioned the work of the Data Analytics and AI group in Birmingham City University.  She would approach them and see if they wished to showcase work at a future meeting.

CK, as a first time attendee, mentioned the iSandwell projects such as upskilling people in the community.  There is a community group, Sandwell Visually Impaired, which has 300 members.  They are organising events such as exploring technologies, eg use of Alexa and creating a digital charter to influence services providers in the local authority. She also mentioned Sandwell Trends dashboard

Action:    NC to share information on Sandwell initiative.

LC pointed out that West Yorkshire had more business contacts on Open Data than the West Midlands, led by the developments of Data Mill North and ODI Leeds. She asked if anyone has done anything on Open data for employers – no-one aware of anything

Action:    LC to send details to CP to put on website.

SW was working with mySociety with the aim of creating democratic commons; mySociety apps/services to be used around the world.  He is also working with BCU following the Big Data Corridor project.  A future interest was the implications of the use of machine learning re: public health and the Index of Multiple Deprivation

NC was about to visit Germany, the Saxony Smart City team, for 6 weeks.  He had hosted a visit from Bertelsmann Stiftung, a German Think Tank working to link citizens to data, at which WMODF members DW and PR had spoken about their work and about the WMODF.  NC will share the visit report when available.

GD – Databrew is using activism to use data and is offering workshops on an intro to open data and mapping

The WMCA CTO was not yet in post which was delaying the creation of the WM digital strategy.

The Chair of the WMCA Digital Board is Dave Maclean, with whom PR has spoken, and Alex Read is his assistant.  TJ offered to follow up with Tracy Westall who was linked in to WMCA and many other initiatives.  An outline of the WM Office of Data Analytics will be presented to the Board in September.

Action:    TJ to promote open data and WMODF with Tracy Westall.

RK is working for 3 days per week with WM Academic Health Science Network on Life Sciences and 2 days as Black Country LEP digital lead.

TJ mentioned the BBC transport hack and would request a summary of outcomes.  There will be 2 more local events, one on the local and strategic road network, the other Traffex 2019 in April.

GS stated that TfWM will publish a real‑time data feed within the next few weeks.

SCL mentioned Coventry’s links with SoCity.

PR mentioned the CLES Local Wealth Building Summit she had attended.


There was no AOB.  The next meetings are 26th September, 11.00‑13.00 in Birmingham, and 28th November, 11.00‑13.00 in Oldbury, Sandwell.


 AGENDA FOR WEDNESDAY 18th JULY 2018, 11.00-14.00 


11.00     1)     Apologies, introductions, notes and matters arising from meeting 23/05/2018 (notes on web site)

11.10      2)     Updates on key issues/standing items

  • Open Data events                               PR
  • ODI node and links to WMODF           HR
  • Web site                                              CP

11.30      3)      Wolverhampton Smart City    CJ and LC

  • Communications
  • Open Data platform
  • Projects

12.10  4)       Data Ethics (see Tom Forth document – Response by Thomas Forth (@thomasforth) to The Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation Open Consultation)                          PR 

12.25      5)      Projects/planning for 2018-19   PR

12.45     6)     Members’ brief updates (round robin of items and events not on agenda)

12.55     7)     AOB and dates of next meetings

13.00 – 14.00              Networking lunch


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