Defra data group plans event to help people recognise their peers

The digital team at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is to hold a networking event for people working in and with the department in data-related roles.

Engagement with peers must go beyond social networks – Photo credit: Flickr, Esther Vargas 

The event, set for 29 November in Birmingham, aims to give people working that use Defra data a chance to meet face-to-face – something prompted by a recent project that showed a lot of people working on Defra data go unnoticed.

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In a blogpost on Defra’s digital blog, the team that runs the department’s data programme discussed the department’s challenge to release 8,000 new open datasets in a year.

At the start of the summer this year, the team announced that it had exceeded the target, making more than 11,000 datasets open.

However, the latest blog said that, because the programme had a “fairly light” coordination and many people across Defra and its partner organisations fed in data, it wasn’t clear who had helped make the project a success.

“We feel like we’ve unwrapped a lot of presents, but either didn’t read the label to see who they were from, or the labels just fell off,” the authors said.

“This feeds into a larger question about recognition,” they said. “Through releasing data and moving towards a position where we’re acting as a platform for others to come in and innovate, we’re becoming a more open organisation, but for many people government is fairly anonymous.”

Although the group said that its hashtag #defradatafunction had allowed people to talk more on Twitter, it hadn’t helped people “in terms of recognising their peers”.

“Being more visible on Twitter and bringing people into the conversation is one way of doing this,” they said “But it’s also important that we speak face-to-face.”

The event, which will be held at Icentrum campus in Birmingham, is open to those working on Defra data, with a limited number of spaces for people working outside Defra. 


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