Can I help? Can you help?


image: Help by Patrick

One great thing about open data camp is the number of non-“data geeks”. This is important. Seeing yourself reflected in the lens of someone outside your community can bring fresh insight.

For example, asking for help. Personally, I’ve struggled to get help on certain topics. Even with a great community in Leeds and on twitter,  it can be like shouting into the wind.

So I shouldn’t have been surprised by this: “where can we go for help if we don’t know what we want, we aren’t techies, but we can define our problem?”. This came out of a discussion by FutureGov’s Marc Barto, Devon County Council’s Martin Howitt and myself called “How to release impossible data? Open discussion on #govdata #socialcare data”.

I don’t have all the answers but I can do something. I can help.

Let’s also manage expectations here: I don’t know everything nor everyone. I can’t promise that my help with be …helpful. I can’t promise to take on your problem or solve it. What I can do is point you in the right direction (if I know what that is!) or to the right people (same caveat) or to some helpful resources (same again).

I’m just one person, so if you’d like to do the same, no matter your expertise, let me know, let others know. Let’s have a conversation, lend a hand and pay it forward.

Useful (helpful) resources:

Three more open data examples to get CIOs thinking

Open data is coming to the enterprise.

Day after day, governments and organisations around the world are releasing an ever increasing amount of open data. While there are issues and risks to consider, the benefits and opportunities are considerable.

Open data may be about data that is “freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control”, but the opportunities far exceed the sum of the individual data sets.

With open data comes the possibilities of an open culture and disaggregation: working collaboratively with other organisations and individuals to ensure your organisation reaps the benefits of “best in breed” technology, complemented by skills and experience outside your workforce.

Doug Laney’s 10 examples of open data curated by TechTarget, is a great example of this people+data+technology approach to innovating with open data. Here are 3 more examples that solve problems at the core of many businesses.

1. Who are our potential customers/suppliers/competitors?
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to b2b lead generation, competitor intelligence and supplier analytics.

Mapping corporate structure using data from OpenCorporates
Mapping corporate structure using data from OpenCorporates

OpenCorporates is the largest global open data repository of company information. Using the SIC division titles, you can find active UK companies involved in the sale of cars and light motor vehicles for example, quickly and relatively painlessly.

Enriching your existing company data is just the start of possibilities this rich resource provides. If you’d prefer the data straight from Companies House, they publish basic company data as open data.

2. Where’s our stuff?
Are you creating an asset register? Collating reports of broken windows, potholes or other problems in the community? Monitoring a marketing campaign where geography and engagement matter?

The Leeds Art Crawl Map
The Leeds Art Crawl Map

Enter Leeds Art Crawl. Proposed as a solution to Leeds City Council’s dilemma: What is public art, where is it and in what condition? The tool, created by WetGenes encourages participants to wander around the city and take pictures of what they think of as public art.

The pictures are uploaded then and there via twitter with geolocation turned on. And so an asset map was born. Not only does it answer the original question, Leeds City Council can now find out how popular a piece is, citizens can discover new public art, be part of the community and curation.

3. How do we/they stack up?
Another area where open data shines is comparative analysis. Zurich Insurance combined publicly available information to create Zurich Risk Room, a tool for multi-dimensional global risk comparison.

SSentif ‘s Yorkshire and the Humber area employment report
SSentif ‘s Yorkshire and the Humber area employment report

Ssentif Intelligence based in Leeds, have a similar product aimed at health, local government and sport organisations, who can compare metrics and peer standing in an innovative dashboard based on Ssentif’s unique benchmarking tool.

For established organisations, opportunities exist to partner up to extend your talent pool, collaborate with your customers, increase your understanding of your place in the market and much more.

For more on open data: