Collaborative service development group launches

A consortium of councils and business has been launched in the Leeds City region to collaborate on the design and delivery of new, efficient public services based on open data.



The ‘ODI Leeds challenge team’ from the Leeds Open Data Institute (ODI) will allow its 30 members to share knowledge and ideas and match councils, businesses and developers in the co-creation, development, procurement and delivery of digital products and services.

The group will draw on the combined skills and resources of Leeds City Council, Bradford Metropolitan Council, West Yorkshire Combined Authority and companies Bloom Agency, ArupKPMG as well as several ‘independents’ and smaller businesses. Projects will also benefit from the expertise of other ODI members regionally and nationally.

“The challenge team is a way for members to deliver and to identify projects” said Paul Connell who jointly leads the ODI Leeds challenge team with Tom Forth, “- co-creating and collaborating with partners to understand their challenges, new ways of creating and procuring using open data” he said. “We allow people with needs to access people with skills”, said Connell, who described the initiative as a way for members to “look outwardly” and “collaborate more, in a neutral space”.

Some projects are already in motion, for example, a local waste service using open data in collaboration with Calderdale Council; and the team has held hack days with the participation of councils on topics including energy use. This weekend the team is holding a ‘Hack My Route’ event bringing together cyclists, road safety specialists and developers to create a new service in the region, starting with a prototype route map.  The hack day is jointly hosted with Leeds Data Mill and West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

Another project, Leeds Empties, provides a service to help bring more empty homes back into use in Leeds and potentially in other cities in the UK. Following the award of funding from Government’s Innovate UK, the scheme aims to launch a website that would let visitors type in a postcode and access data pulled in from a range of sources on a particular empty property.

“In our current projects we’re helping overcome commercial and technical barriers to making valuable data about the Leeds City Region open. We’re prototyping new systems that use open data and collecting, mapping and visualising data about our region to encourage investment and job creation. Instead of paying multiple people in different ways you’ll get a single invoice from the ODI Leeds”,​ Connell writes on the blog of the ODI.

The ODI has 18 ‘nodes’ across the world and was founded by inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee

Mel Poluck

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