These are the notes of the WMODF meeting which took place at the Birmingham City Council offices 28th September

ATTENDED BY:         Pauline Roche – Chair              (RnR Organisation)

Teresa Jolley                          (DEFT153)

Nic Cary                                 (Waysphere)

Laura Collings                         (Wolverhampton CC)

Chris Price – Secretary             (digiconsultancy)

Darren Wright                         (Inside Outcomes)

Glyn Simpson                          (TfWM)

Si Chun Lam                           (Coventry CC)

Gareth Davies                         (Data Brew)

Paul Campbell                         (Public Health, Birmingham CC)

Ralph Smith                            (Public Health, Birmingham CC)

Charlotte Johns                       (Wolverhampton CC)

Peter Bishop                           (CIO, Birmingham CC)

Ted Ryan                               (RnR Organisation)

APOLOGIES:             Heike Schuster‑James              (Birmingham City University)

Simon Whitehouse                   (Data Unlocked)

  1. The Notes of the last meeting of 18thJuly 2018 were agreed.

Re: Birmingham CC burial data, no data had been released yet.

Action:    PR/DW to pursue BCC

The request to change the title of the Birmingham ODI node to the West Midlands ODI node would be raised at the next meeting of the node.

Action:    PR/TJ to request title change for ODI node.

  1. UPDATES

In Wolverhampton, the open data platform, currently available internally, would be publicly available on Monday (1st October).  They would use social media to promote use of the platform, starting low‑key.  Wolverhampton was one of the sites for the 5G pilot.

Re WMCA, there was still no CIO in post.  PR had raised the topic of open data at the GBSLEP annual conference in a panel session MC’d by Anita Bhalla – panellists confirmed the value of data to the region and one suggested that release of data should be required in public contracts.

Re the website, CP reported that he had posted an analysis of performance over the last 30 days and during last year on the website (www.wmodf.org.uk/2018/09/25/stats-on-wmodf-website-snapshot-24-9-18/).  Highlights were 480 accesses since the last meeting; average accesses per day 8 this year which is twice the 2017 average.  Most referrers were search engines and there had been clicks out (low in number) to regional local authority sites over the year.  In response to a brief discussion about maintaining the usefulness and relevance of the site, it was decided to hold a sprint for volunteers (PR, TR, CP, TJ, NC, DW, and SCL [remotely]) to update the site.

Action:    CP/PR to organise WMODF website sprint in Birmingham – subsequently proposed Wednesday, 31st October, 10.00‑13.00, IBL

Re Twitter usage, PR explained there had been a reduction in hits and this could be analysed at the Sprint – 88% of followers were in the UK, 53% in the West Midlands.

Open Data Events: there are still tickets available for the Open Data Camp in Aberdeen, 3rd‑4th November.  Hack the Midlands is also planned for those dates.

  1. DATA DISCOVERY CENTRE (DDC) FOR THE WEST MIDLANDS

TJ and NC introduced their bid to establish the centre.  They will be meeting with the Innovation Birmingham leadership later to formally present and seek support to establish this in iCentrum.

TJ explained that the concept of the DDC had been tested at Traffex and she was basing a bid for the Women in Innovation Awards on this work.  DDC aims to empower organisations to collaborate and share data and use data tools on transport data.  It is not another data vault.  TJ suggested it would act as a ‘Room of Requirement’ (thanks to J K Rowling).  Already the proposal had the support of a number of larger organisations who may become members receiving reductions on training, advice such as security, free access to data tools, and help finding the right person to contact and links to others with the same issue.  The centre would be cross‑disciplinary and cross‑organisation and be used by a wide range of disciplines from planners to data scientists and journalists to programme managers.  The DDC will link to initiatives such as the Coventry City of Culture, Open Street Map, and HS2.

TJ confirmed that the Data Discovery Centre will be a feature at Traffex 2019 (2nd‑4th April).  She showed a short video featuring Andy Street (www.networkwestmidlands.com/keepmoving) demonstrating commitment to transport across the West Midlands.

A discussion of the MHCLG (Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government) £7.5 million fund for council’s digital innovation followed.  Coventry, Wolverhampton and Birmingham had signed the Ministry’s Digital Declaration.  There was a tight timescale to make an expression of interest but a bid involving WMODF and several West Midlands councils received support and this would be followed up outside the meeting.

  1. DATA ETHICS

The WMODF response to the consultation on the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation was published on the website (www.wmodf.org.uk/2018/09/13/west-midlands-open-data-forum-response-to-the-consultation-on-the-centre-for-data-ethics-and-innovation/).  A response was awaited.

  1. WMODF ACTION PLAN

PR led discussion of the 2018 action plan (www.wmodf.org.uk/2018/04/09/2017-review-and-2018-action-plan/).

The aim to hold meetings across the region was being achieved with meetings in Wolverhampton, Coventry and Birmingham already.  Chloe King of Sandwell DC had left the Council’s digital unit and had therefore resigned from WMODF.  However, GD believed that a meeting could be hosted and would follow up with Nathan Coyle who was currently out of the country.  DW offered to assist in identifying potential replacements for CK.

Action:    GD and DW to follow up meeting and representation from Sandwell DC.

In discussion, the difficulties of identifying examples of exploitation of open data were recognised.  Could WMODF collect such evidence?  Public Health Intelligence use published data sets every day.

Another potential area of action is the dissemination of news/developments about open data across the region.  For example, Coventry are about to publish updated data.  Wolverhampton offered to share data analytics from their open data site.  Also, policy people needed to know where to get expert help in accessing and interpreting data.

Action:    PR proposed we discuss this at the website review event.  TJ agreed to lead on new information about transport data.

  1. BIRMINGHAM CITY COUNCIL AND OPEN DATA

Peter Bishop, CIO, and AD/Info, Technology and Digital Services for BCC made a presentation on the future of Open Data.

PB had prepared an Open Data Strategy review for Birmingham City Council and he shared the 34 draft recommendations with the group.  The document was not yet publicly available as approval by Cabinet was awaited.

PB reported that there were 394 data sets on the Birmingham Data Factory but he believed that BCC was only at level 2 of the 5 identified by Socrata.  There were issues for open data in the West Midlands: currently there was no regional approach; potential partners are developing their own platforms; open data was seen as a regulatory requirement rather than an opportunity.  WMCA was the obvious co‑ordinating body but is Open Data a priority for them and, if so, where’s the funding?

His recommendations to the Council were grouped into 6 areas: Vision and Purpose, Consumers, Technical, Financial, Governance, Partners.

His approach was to be open and learn from others, eg Leeds, and he welcomed a regional approach.  Open Data could be driven in future by big issues requiring sharing of data such as pollution and transport.

There was insufficient time to study his draft recommendations but he would welcome feedback from WMODF – for example, which would be in our top ten?

Action:    WMODF to respond to PB within 4 weeks.

There was a wide discussion about what data was being used and which organisations were data‑driven.  For example, Public Health used data intensively; the Police were making significant developments in data.  TR mentioned the valuable data held by community organisations.

PB agreed to return to the meeting to share progress.

  1. UPDATES, AOB AND FUTURE MEETINGS

SCL questioned how WMODF could learn from others and potentially benchmark its activities.

Data Brew had a blog covering issues in Sandwell, Lichfield and Wolverhampton.

PR mentioned that tickets were still available on Eventbrite for the Data4Good conference on 14th November.

The next meeting will be on 28th November in Sandwell.

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