Funding boost for Birmingham open data project

A project to publish open data from Birmingham City Council’s systems has won a grant from the Cabinet Office.

The council is leading a consortium developing the data and skills hub, aimed at helping citizens, communities and third sector organisations understand the value of data analysis to solve issues.

And it has now received £124,000 towards the project from central government, which will help accelerate and automate the extraction of council data onto a new open data hub, which is being developed.

Lisa Trickett, cabinet member for green, smart and sustainable city at Birmingham City Council, said: “Release and use of data is at the heart of helping us build greater transparency.

“Enabling citizens and communities to understand the data will support them to gain new insights and evidence to embed improvements, drive community enterprise and make best use of available funds to commission better targeted services and allocate resources to areas of most need.”

The consortium also includes Aston University, Boilerhouse Media, Podnosh and Regional Action West Midlands.

A number of other groups will also be involved, including Open Mercia, West Midlands Open Data Forum, and community groups in the Castle Vale and Sparkbrook wards – all of which say better data analysis will help them campaign, plan and influence commissioning of services and support service planning.

The project will also see a range of open data engagement activities with neighbourhood groups to help develop residents’ interest in data analysis.

The funding also includes the development of easy to use visualisation tools aimed at providing simple-to-use interfaces and applications.

All of the data published, visualisation tools and training materials will be freely available under Open Government and Creative Commons licenses.

A full evaluation report, undertaken by Aston University, will be published on completion of the project.

The announcement of the funding award comes a day after a report by Whitehall officials into the council called for its ICT services to be managed at a corporate level.

Colin Marrs

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