Is data dull? The answer to this question is a resounding NO! In August 2010 NESTA launched a programme called Make it Local. The aim of the programme is to help show local authorities how to make the most of opening their data and working with digital developers to provide useful web-based services for their communities.
I’m definitely not a data expert, however I’ve been truly inspired by the people and the organisations involved in this programme and the services they are creating. Through working on the programme I’ve also been inspired by the enormous amount of cool stuff that’s out there, using open data. As individuals we can now find out how our taxes are spent via Where does my money go, gain a bird’s eye view of London’s underground system with transport maps and even make more informed decisions about the restaurants we want to eat in with Scores on the Doors.
I find it captivating that there are people out there willing to create more of these services because they believe in transparent politics, a fairer society or simply because they want to create something fun. But should it stop there? Why should it just be one developer and a laptop working autonomously for the greater good? Isn’t the role of a local authority to run efficient services that benefit their community and enhance a person’s wellbeing?
Each of the projects involved in the Make it Local programme have created something new and exciting; partnerships have grown between councils, developers and individuals and communities are engaged and empowered by the new services being created.
I believe we might be on the cusp of data revolution. It’s great to see lots of councils publishing their data online and inviting developers to work their magic. But why not go a step further and build strategic partnerships with developers, digital agencies and the community. Creating something meaningful, helping to drive a thriving local economy and creating services which enhance our lives; surely that’s the end game?
You may or may not agree with everything I’ve said here; you may have some ideas on what should happen next or some thoughts about data in general so I’d like to give you an opportunity to come along to an event we’re holding here at NESTA, the Make it Local showcase. You’ll hear more about each of the projects involved in the programme, have an opportunity to debate some of the issues, challenge your thinking and hopefully be inspired by the possibilities ahead. Join us on 14 April and have your say in what you believe should happen next.
Deborah Fox, Programme Manager, NESTA