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Seeking GeoJSON data for all counties of UK?

Seeking GeoJSON data for all counties of UK?


I'm having a look at http://code.highcharts.com/mapdata/countries/gb/gb-all.js

However I'm having trouble identifing a list of counties from this geojson data.

I've managed to get a rough list by checking for a property type feature of 'Administrative County'.


A simple approach is to make one if you can't find one. Get the free OrdnanceSurvey OpenData Boundaries dataset. This contains several boundary datasets in either Shapefile or MapInfo formats. Identify the one you need and load it into a competent GIS (QGIS is free). Then export as GeoJson. Alternatively use org2ogr (also free) to convert it on the commandline.

EDIT:
To get a full set of the county boundaries for Great Britain (not UK) from the Boundary Line data, open 'District_borough_unitary_regions' and then dissolve by 'FILE_NAME'. In a few instances (Leicester being one) the county-city will have a separate boundary (being a unitary authority in its own right). Dissolving with a reg-ex expression, or using a look-up table of counties and county-cities and some judicious table joining will sort that out.

Alternatively…
You should be able to extract them from OSM data (e.g. Geofabrik). You will need to filter the polygons to extract just the administrative boundarie. According to the documentation, you need Admin level 6 (administrative counties / Unitary authorities, City of London)… but since this is both unitary authorities AND counties you have the exact same problem as above (which is not surprising since OSM uses the OS Open Data). A quick visual check confirms the OSM Admin-level 6 boundaries and the OS open data boundaries are almost identical. The one advantage of this is you can get the whole of the UK from OSM.


I would download data from here if nothing works and convert shapefiles into geojson.


I ended up using RafealJS with the following SVG file: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:SVG_maps_of_the_United_Kingdom#mediaviewer/File:British_Isles_in_counties.svg


Would the Natural Earth Admin 1 data work? http://www.naturalearthdata.com/downloads/10m-cultural-vectors/10m-admin-1-states-provinces/ (again, you'd need too convert from shp to json)


I would download data from here https://geojson.co/ , if you need all the countries in one file, then input - England+Scotland+Wales+Northern Ireland, unless you need each county in a separate file, then you just input each country name one after the other download.


MSc Supply Chain Management UK is aimed towards developing analytical specialists with a clear understanding of the different ways of managing multinational brands and creates strategies to develop new branding techniques. The course develops a critically reflective approach and management skills in Supply Chain Management and also goes through a comprehensive program designed to ensure well depth study through scientific methods, processes, and systems in order to enable thyself to extract knowledge or insight from data in various forms, either structured or unstructured. Masters in Supply Chain Management in UK is a highly specialized educational course that equips you with substantive knowledge about management of brands. It teaches students about how to build a Supply Chain and manage it with branding strategies. Supply Chain Management Masters in UK offer students the scope of developing an in-depth understanding and knowledge of the management of brands. Using theory and practice in the Supply Chain Management field is one of the most important ideas behind MSc Supply Chain Management in UK. The course shall enable students to maximize their management skills and their potential for working in administration environments. It will also help them in maximizing their demonstration different varieties of knowledge and skills in the areas of Supply Chain Management like analytical skills, team working skills, written and verbal communication skills and the ability to manage and allocate budget. The course also comes with a placement option for the students giving them the exclusive scope of applying their learnt skills in different Supply Chain administration assignments. MSc in Supply Chain Management in UK is aided through assessment, learning and integrated teaching strategy demonstrating the perfection of the assessment, learning and teaching procedures used for offering the best results. Different approaches such as assignments to the coursework, workshops, lectures, seminars, industry experience and practical work along with practice sessions are used to make the students competent in the technical and non-technical understanding of the management sector. The study programme helps students in thinking laterally for solving issues and raising ideas for administration of luxury/Supply Chain in a very logical and structured manner. Different modules of the programme help in strengthening the learning plan by boosting critical thinking of students for administration and management solutions and adjusting their plans according to changing environments. The most important objective of this degree programme is to enable students to handle the open-ended and evolving nature of Supply Chain Management. Working on the assignments means that the students will have to use their administration and management judgments, creativity and skills obtained during the course along with skills in communication and teamwork.

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MSc in Accounting in UK

MSc in Accounting in UK is aided through assessment, learning, and integrated teaching strategy, demonstrating the perfection of the assessment, learning, and teaching procedures used for offering the best results. Different methods like coursework assignments, tutorials, lectures, seminars, project work, and practical work, along with practice sessions are used for making the students proficient in the technical and the non-technical understanding of the field of Accounting. The study program helps students in thinking laterally for solving problems and issues in a very logical and structured manner.Different modules of the program help in strengthening the learning plan by boosting critical thinking of students for evaluating varied accounting and management solutions and adjusting their plans according to changing environments. The most important objective of this degree program is to enable students to handle open-ended Accounting assignments. Working on the assignments means that the students will have to use their Accounting and management perspectives, creativity, and skills obtained during the course, along with skills in communication and teamwork. Since the students are equipped with better communication skills in addition to accounting skills, they are given higher preference everywhere.

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Methods

Study setting and sample

A cross-sectional study was conducted in Qianjiang District in China in 2013. Our study sample comprises all beneficiaries under the URRBMI who were hospitalized at least once in 2013, totaling 445,254 persons and 65,877 admissions. In this study, primary healthcare institutions consist of all township health institutions, community health centers and other clinics. Other hospitals are classified as secondary healthcare institutions. In this district, as shown in Fig.  1 , the urban areas include Chengdong, Chengxi, Chengnan, Zhengyang, Zhoubai, and Zhuoshui. The district center represents Chengdong, Chengxi, and Chengnan. There are several arterial roads, primarily north-south highways (G319, G65).

Qianjiang administrative map

Unit of analysis

Based on previous studies of geographic variation, administrative units have frequently been used for geographic variation studies [10, 26]. Furthermore, Verena Vogt et al., who examined geographic variation in the use of cancer screening at the district level, proposed that analysis on a smaller geographical scale could result in more reliable conclusions [32]. Therefore, we analyzed data at the town level in this study.

Statistical analysis

Theil index

Concentration and spatial variation measures are usually performed by means of a variety of indices, i.e. the Gini index, the Theil index, the concentration index, and Moran’s I. Theil index is considered the simplest variation indicator for the reason that it does not depend on any additional parameter [33], hence, we calculated the Theil index for health insurance compensation by person-times and compensation by amounts at the town level to analyze geographic variation in health insurance benefits. Geographic variation was estimated using the following simplified formula:

Where Pi equals the proportion of the insured population of region i in the whole insured population, and Yi represents the proportion of compensation by person-times or by amounts of region i in the whole compensation by person-times or by amounts. If Pi = Yi, then Ti equals 0, which indicates that there is no inequality for this region. If Pi > Yi, then Ti >𠂐, his region is not in favor of compensation the bigger the value, the greater the disadvantage region i suffers. If Pi < Yi, then Ti <𠂐, this region is in favor of compensation the smaller the value, the greater the advantage region i enjoys.

Spatial interpolation analysis

The geographic distribution of health insurance benefits based on the Theil index values was displayed by the colored choropleth map using the spatial interpolation analysis with the Geographic Information System [34]. With this method, the closer the points are in the space, the more likely it is that these points have similar characteristics. With the spline function, points were interpolated into the grid surface, and data of discrete points were converted into continuous surface data.

Multiple linear regression

In order to clarify the spatial variation of health insurance benefits, the non-spatial regression, ordinary least squares (OLS), was firstly used with the Theil index value as the dependent variable. Considering the study framework of Anderson’s healthcare utilization model [35], unit of analysis and data availability, we selected ability of healthcare delivery, healthcare-seeking behavior of the insured, geographical accessibility of healthcare, and economic factors to analyze the potential factors influencing geographic variation of health insurance benefits.

The ability of healthcare delivery was measured by healthcare staff density (the number of healthcare staff per 1000 residents), the density of actual open beds (the number of actual open beds per 1000 residents) and the availability of lower abdominal surgery (available =𠂑). The number of healthcare staff and actual open beds, as well as the availability of lower abdominal surgery, were investigated using questionnaires for the township health centers. Population for each town was collected through the 2014 Statistical Yearbook of Qianjiang District.

The healthcare-seeking behavior of the insured was computed as the proportion of compensation by person-times in primary healthcare institutions that accounted for the overall compensation by person-times in each town and the data were collected from the basic health insurance system.

The geographical accessibility of healthcare was estimated based on travel time from the town government to the Qianjiang Central Hospital, which is the best hospital in that district, by car using Google Maps [36, 37].

The town-level economic factor was represented by the per-capita net income at the town level in RMB (¥) in 2013 and was collected from the 2014 Statistical Yearbook of Qianjiang District.

The density of healthcare staff, density of actual open beds, geographical accessibility of healthcare and town-level economic factor were conducted by standardized normal Z transformation to eliminate dimension so that data had same caliber.

Moran’s I for OLS residuals were tested in order to find the necessity of taking spatial dependencies into consideration. In the current study, it demonstrated that no significant spatial autocorrelation existed (For compensation by person-times as the dependent variable: Moran’s I = −𠂐.021, p =𠂐.397 >𠂐.05 For compensation by amounts as the dependent variable: Moran’s I = −𠂐.049, p =𠂐.387 >𠂐.05) and there was no need to conduct spatial regression analysis [38, 39].

All maps were displayed using ArcGIS 10.2. Theil index, Moran’s I and multiple linear regression analysis were performed using Stata Version 13.0.


Seeking out savings.

Reducing cost is a major driver behind server consolidation projects, so the chance are most organisations will be asking the same three questions:

How much of a saving will consolidation provide?

How much will the project cost to carry out?

When will those costs be recouped?

Although the answers vary from company to company, there is strong consensus that the cost reductions gained from consolidating IT infrastructures can be significant. Depending on the implementation of best practices and the existence of a solid, workable enterprise IT governance policy, "you are probably looking at a perception of 20% to 40% improvement in total cost of ownership [TCO]", says Jim Cassell, Dataquest research vice present at the Gartner analyst group.

But, warns Michael Avis of systems vendor Sun Microsystems: "Potentially successful consolidation projects can fail to start because the focal point is solely cost reduction rather than value identification, tracking and release."

Furthermore, advisors are adamant that consolidation should not be viewed in terms of a one-off IT project or a quick fix solution to reducing costs, but as a long-term IT strategy - not least because the more significant implications of consolidation will only become apparent after early cost savings are achieved.

Measuring cost There are several ways to measure the financial impact of a consolidation project:

Purchase cost - where only the immediate costs of the purchase are considered, irrespective of the wider costs and benefits that will result.

Total cost of ownership (TCO) - which measures the total cost of a purchase, taking into account both the direct/indirect costs and the direct resulting benefits. The intention is to arrive at a final figure that will reflect the effective cost of purchase.

Total value of ownership (TVO) - this considers the monetary value of the key issues that affect delivery of the business plan across the enterprise and then determines, in financial terms, the likely impact of IT investments on those business issues.

Although the choice of measurement method depends to some extent on the scale and scope of the consolidation, many companies favour TCO. The key areas that consolidated organisations have found to be the most significant in terms of reducing TCO are:

Staff Staffing levels are, according to Cassell, going to represent the biggest cost saving once a consolidation has been completed. "The overwhelming driver for consolidation is staffing, although this is not necessarily true higher up the hierarchy. In other words, if you are consolidating data centres with very large machines, then software also becomes very important - but staffing is undoubtedly where the real money savings are."

That does not have to mean the complete removal of staff, as Zoe Frost of the services marketing division at Hewlett-Packard points out.

"I really don't think we have ever witnessed headcount reduction being a key driver behind IT consolidation. Companies generally view consolidation, at least partly, as an opportunity to free up staff for more productive work."

Certainly less disparate systems and application means less specialised support staff, and moving staff from redundant support roles to other areas of the IT department will reduce TCO as far as the IT infrastructure is concerned. However, Iain Stephen, industry standard business manager at Compaq, warns companies against cutting back too far. "If you have a well-managed infrastructure, you may save more money on power and heat than on squeezing the last resource."

Servers The potential for cost reduction in terms of servers is also considerable, but not necessarily in the hardware itself. When it comes to servers, support costs far outweigh the cost of buying the machines.

What is more, those costs are becoming increasingly evident for companies that took advantage of the relative inexpensiveness of hardware over the last several years, and are now finding themselves struggling to maintain the so-called 'server farms' that have quickly built up throughout the organisation.

One prominent high-street retailer in the UK estimates that its server and storage consolidation, which took two years to complete, has saved the company around [pound]750,000 in maintenance costs alone.

"Hardware costs are the most easily defined," says Stuart Murray, solutions architect at consolidation specialist Computacenter. "A reduction in number of boxes means fewer machines to maintain, therefore less power and space needed. But balanced against the maintenance savings is the likelihood of additional capital expenditure for new hardware," he warns.

Software Getting a grip on company-wide software usage is going to have significant effect on cost, providing an opportunity to streamline procurement and eliminate the ad hoc software purchases that occur in different business divisions and cost centres. "If you are totally out of control and there are duplications all over the place then obviously you are going to save more money," says Cassell of Dataquest. "It all depends on what your software licences fees are, and what your vendors' pricing polices are, but there is real potential here to make a significant saving."

"Operating system consolidation is also very popular," says Stephen of Compaq. It can offer substantial support and management savings, not to mention the cost benefits derived from the need for fewer licences. As a result, many companies are now looking at replacing multiple servers running multiple copies of Windows NT/2000 or Solaris with, for example, a single mainframe running hundreds of virtual instances of the Linux operating system.

Gartner has cited one instance in which an application service provider that replaced 20 Windows NT servers with an IBM mainframe running multiple instances of Linux (each acting as a separate application server) lowered costs from $20 per user to $1.

One issue to bear in mind, however, is that the more powerful the hardware, the more expensive software licensing often becomes. "It is a balancing act to ensure that the new system's licensing costs do not exceed the combined licenses on the previous systems," says Murray. "In addition, if a change of operating system is envisaged, some vendors insist that the products are re-licensed instead of upgraded, but savings should be achievable through careful sizing and maintenance of software."

Storage Given that up to half of the cost of most companies' computer systems can be attributed to storage, effectively consolidating storage resources is going to have a serious impact on overall costs.

"As storage is now taking 60% of the IT hardware budget, there's tremendous potential savings in consolidating or virtualising storage. [Organisations can] get 70% to 80% utilisation versus 15% to 20%," says Cassell. Research undertaken by Centrix, meanwhile, shows that companies can realise a 57% reduction in costs and a 950% increase in productivity by moving from a distributed storage infrastructure to an enterprise storage network. And Forrester suggests that implementing a storage area network (SAN) will help reduce overall storage costs by 30% and will pay for itself in a year.

Another approach is to implement network-attached storage (NAS), where file-server storage is simply bolted on to existing networks. Many companies prefer a hybrid of both SAN and NAS, where large volumes of files reside on a dedicated SAN, and NAS devices handle less data-hungry applications.

One of the largest medical insurances companies in the US recently announced that it is beginning to see a full return on its investment, and has saved an additional 40% on its hardware costs less than a year after spending around $10 million on consolidating its SAN infrastructure.

The key is to create a single pool of storage available to all servers within the network. "If you compare the management it took to keep 50 to 60 servers (each with their own data stores) up and running, to the same operation under a SAN, it really makes it much easier," says Gene Budd, director of technical support at Euroconex, the card payment processing arm of the Bank of Ireland.

Above and beyond pure cost savings, one of the huge benefits of consolidation is that it opens up the scope to carry out infrastructure projects that were previously impossible due to the pressure placed upon resources. The key says Cassell, is to redeploy resources to projects that help drive the business forward. "Use the skills you already have to do something that's highly value-add," he urges.

The HP Atlanta Data Centre

Hewlett-Packard's Atlanta data centre reduced its number of field data centres from 26 through to eventually just one through consolidation. The Atlanta data centre supports hundreds of Unix, Windows, and MPE servers and hundreds of custom and off-the-shelf applications. With more than half the servers located in field offices, the implementation of common processes, configurations and environments was critical to the consolidation effort.

The data centre now employs just five systems managers, each managing approximately 120 servers

It reported 20% cost savings in the first year, 30% in the second and 40% in the third


SPGooglePlacesAutocomplete is a simple objective-c wrapper around the Google Places Autocomplete API. The API can be used to provide autocomplete functionality for text-based geographic searches, by returning Places such as businesses, addresses, and points of interest as a user types. SPGooglePlacesAutocomplete also provides support for converting Place results into CLPlacemark objects for easy mapping with MKMapView. SPGooglePlacesAutocomplete requires a deployment target >= iOS 5.0.

R wrapper for highcharts. highcharter bring all the highcharts capabilites so it is recommended know how highcharts API works to take a major advantage of this package. You can look some demos charts and explore chart types, syntax and all what highcharts can do. Highcharter has a dependency on Highcharts, a commercial JavaScript charting library. Highcharts offers both a commercial license as well as a free non-commercial license. Please review the licensing options and terms before using this software, as the highcharter license neither provides nor implies a license for Highcharts.


Hearst Entertainment, Inc.

Like founder William Randolph Hearst's castle San Simeon, The Hearst Corporation is sprawling. Through Hearst Newspapers, the company owns some two dozen daily newspapers (such as the San Francisco Chronicle and the Houston Chronicle) and about 60 weekly newspapers. Its Hearst Magazines publishes more than 300 global titles, including major US consumer magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Esquire, and O, the Oprah Magazine. Hearst has broadcasting operations in about three dozen US cities through its Hearst Television subsidiary. Its Hearst Entertainment & Syndication has stakes in the A&E and ESPN cable networks. The Hearst Corporation is owned by the Hearst family, but managed by a board of trustees.

Hearst publishes information for the automotive, electronic, pharmaceutical, and finance industries through its subsidiaries, which include Black Book, CAMP Systems International, Motor Information Systems, Fitch Group, and its Hearst Health Network.

Fitch Group provides investment ratings of companies and other financial tools and services.

Through its Hearst Ventures unit, the company makes strategic investments in online properties such as BuzzFeed and Pandora and has a minority stake in entertainment network IGN Entertainment.

The Hearst Magazines International unit encompasses nearly 300 print editions and more than 265 websites in about 35 languages and nearly 85 countries. It also publishes about 20 magazines in the UK through its wholly owned subsidiary, Hearst Magazines UK.

Geographic Reach

Hearst has more than 360 businesses in some 150 countries with wholly-owned subsidiaries in China, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Taiwan, and the UK.

Financial Performance

Privately held Hearst reported that its revenue rose 4% to $11.4 billion in 2018 from 2017, boosted by the impact of the US Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and returns from cashing in on investments made by Hearst Ventures and Fitch.

Hearst has found a growing business in its Business Media operations, a group of subscription-based, digital trade publications that provide business and medical information, as well as software. The business's customers include hospitals, drug companies, health plans, money managers, pension funds, jet plane owners, and automotive companies. Hearst plans to expand the Business Media group of publications through acquisitions and investments in new data or software sources.

In 2018, the company bought the 20% of its Fitch that it didn't own, giving it complete control over the business and making Fitch its biggest holding.

Hearst expanded its cadre of magazines with specific audiences in 2018 with the acquisition of Rodale Inc. and its publications that include Men's Health, Women's Health, and Runner's World. Hearst also added to its newspaper holdings by buying a group of weeklies in Connecticut. It invested in printing and packaging technology in San Francisco to reduce printing costs at the Chronicle and boost capacity to print other newspapers in the region.

Company Background

In 1887, William Randolph Hearst became proprietor of the San Francisco Chronicle, setting the stage for his career a press baron, political figure, and inspiration for what many critics call the greatest movie, Citizen Kane. The Hearst Corporation has had its ups and downs over the decades and now finds itself as a media titan of sorts with assets in newspapers, including the San Francisco Chronicle, TV stations, new media, finance, and a range of other businesses operating around the world.


Best UK Virtual Number Providers Compared by Size

Business phone service pricing is very complex, and trying to calculate your expected services can be challenging when you aren’t familiar with telecom terms and pricing structures already. That’s why we’re starting this post off with some scenarios calculated for you.

Below, you’ll find the plan details from all six providers, including what you can expect to pay on your first two invoices if you choose that provider. We created a United Kingdom virtual number comparison plans tailored for three levels of call volume that covers the common needs of entrepreneurs and startups, SMEs, and large enterprises.

Best Virtual Number Providers for Entrepreneurs and Startups

First, we're comparing virtual number plans for startups or entrepreneurs looking for a simple, affordable service that isn't going to be a pain to deal with or beat you down with hidden admin fees. We did the math and estimated what a plan with about 300 minutes of talk time will look like from the top VoIP providers.

Best Virtual Number Providers for Small and Medium Businesses

Next, we're comparing plans for a small or midsize business looking for a comprehensive service that's easy to self-manage, but also doesn't cost a fortune. We did the math and estimated what a plan with about 1,200 minutes of talk time will look like from the top VoIP providers in the UK.

Best Virtual Number Providers for Enterprise

Finally, we're comparing plans for large enterprises looking for a safe, highly-reliable service that also provides the affordable call rates you should expect when managing high volumes. We estimated what a plan with about 3,000 minutes of talk time will look like from the United Kingdom's top VoIP services.

Great Virtual Landline Services by Use-Case

Best VoIP services for outbound calling plans?

Both Virtual Landline and AVOXI stand out when it comes to affordable outbound rates. Virtual Landline’s pricing plans and service features may be especially attractive to small and midsize businesses located inside the UK that don’t make a ton of outbound calls. They provide “unlimited” minutes for outbound calls (as outlined by the UK Fair Usage Policy) in their UK Unlimited plan. If you do go over the policy’s allotted minutes, you pay a low 1p per minute to call UK landlines and 4p per minute to UK mobile numbers.

AVOXI’s included features and pricing plans are built with midsize and enterprise companies in mind. We are especially strong when it comes to serving any company with international calling and call forwarding needs.

Best UK VoIP service for bundled internet solutions?

Telecoms World is a respected VoIP service that offers several solutions under one roof. In addition to virtual number and VoIP phone system plans, you can set up ethernet lines and broadband connections with Telecoms World.

Numbergroup also has an interesting deal where customers get access to more competitive business energy rates. This is only applicable if you have locations in the UK that cost you a significant amount in power and utilities every month.

Which virtual number provider also offers great SMS features?

Numbergroup. They have the most complete UK SMS feature out of all the providers on this list. It will cost you £19.99 per month and 3p per text, but it includes comprehensive features such as SMS keywords, short links, simple reply service, surveys, scheduled sends, automated replies, and API integration.

What's the best VoIP service for international calling and phone forwarding?

At AVOXI, we're known as specialists when it comes to international calling and virtual number forwarding. If you're comparing international calling rates, virtual number pricing, and included VoIP service features, we go above and beyond.

Already have business phone lines in the UK or elsewhere? Customers of AVOXI can port their numbers to over 50 countries worldwide and earn a month of free calling by doing so! Learn More About Our Porting Offer ➜

Add new virtual landlines in the UK and over 170 other countries in minutes or less. Every plan includes time and day-based routing, voicemail transcription, IVR (virtual receptionist), advanced call tracking and logging, and many more.


Geographic Analysis using GIS

Businesses are increasingly seeing the benefit of using mapping software to help with the analysis, planning and presentation of information held relating to the geographic nature of Sales Force activity.

Whether an organisation has a single Sales Person covering the whole country serving dozens of accounts, or has dozens of Sales People managing a handful of accounts each, mapping software can bring to life any data held in Excel or similar formats as long as there a spatial dimension of some kind.

We recently provided a range of services for just such an organisation, namely Hay Group PLC. – Hay Group, a firm of Management Consultants, were seeking an entry level GIS solution to help with Sales and Marketing activity they wanted to be able to analyse their Local Authority sector Sales Activity. Although the data already existed in tabular format, Hay Group wanted to be able analyse patterns of activity across the country, for example by producing a map depicting where Won / Lost accounts were clustered. We were supplied with an Excel list of around 800 postcode records which were geo – coded then the following tasks undertaken:


Open Data Resource Pack

This Open Data Resource Pack is intended to help public authorities throughout Scotland develop and implement their own plans for open data.

Supporting files

Supporting files

Annex B: Case Studies

The following is a collection of case studies which demonstrate the value that open data is bringing to individuals, companies and public authorities in Scotland.

If you have a case study you would like to share or you would like to be put in touch with the case study subjects, then get in touch - [email protected],gsi.gov.uk

1. Clackmannanshire Council: Open Data Scotland and Code for Europe

Many of the problems which Open Data is typically used to solve don't exist in a small Council. Mass transportation isn't an issue with only 3 bus routes. There isn't a developer community taking part in hack events and generating innovative applications. Why then should a small Council pursue Open Data?

Open Data affords opportunities to be more efficient, whether through being nimble by adopting freely available Civic Apps to improve service delivery or by reducing the time spent responding to information requests from the public or partners. In time, it is likely that we will be required by statute to share more data anyway.

Location based services will become increasingly important. In the near future citizens will expect to be able to use their personal device and using the tools of their choice, see and interact with services which are nearby. In order for Council services to be part of this world, data about those services must be published openly.

'Open Data Scotland' is a programme which has involved over the last year, four of Scotland's local authorities - Edinburgh, Aberdeen, East Lothian and Clackmannanshire. Aberdeen and Edinburgh City Councils have been at the leading edge of nascent open data work in Scotland and can be seen as 'mature' players, willing to share their knowledge and expertise with others. East Lothian and Clackmannanshire came to the programme with little or no experience of open data, but with an ambitious attitude and a willingness to experiment and embrace innovation.

Each local authority was appointed a 'Code Fellow in Residence' (a technologist) who has worked intensively with the local authority staff over 12 months to open up data sets, publish these on a portal so they can be re-used and created new digital public services - apps and web content to enhance both citizens and visitors experiences of the local authority. A 'Designer in Residence' also worked with the technologists and local authority staff across the four authorities.

We have been part of the wider 'Code for Europe' programme which has involved designers and technologists across Europe working with civic authorities to increase the use of open data sets to enhance civic transparency and improve decision making.

Clackmannanshire Council is Scotland's smallest mainland local authority and their learning from the programme below demonstrates that this is not beyond the reach of any government agency or public body in Scotland, with the right culture and access to skills.

With little prior knowledge of Open Data, our initial ambition for this project was to develop a mobile app which would provide personalised access to childcare resources as part of the early intervention strand in our 'Making Clackmannanshire Better' change programme.

As the project evolved we focussed on three main areas: Knowledge Transfer, Developing a Portal and our Childcare Application.

Knowledge transfer provided Council officers with information about standards and systems used in Open Data, the ecosystem of agencies involved in Open Data and the sources of existing Open Data applications which were available for re-use.

We successfully built a CKAN Open Data portal and developed an app called Clacks Kids which is a location based service directory. Spin-off activities have lead us to develop an open GIS mapping portal which is likely to inform our future GIS Strategy and a reporting platform based on the Open311 standard.

  • The biggest lesson is that even a very small Council can engage with Open Data. The key components are having access to people with the right skills and attitudes, easy access to servers and software with which to tinker, and permission to experiment.
  • Developing an Open Data infrastructure is important if the project is to be sustainable. While the "app" may be the most high impact product, without the infrastructure there will be no data to use in the app. Apps are also transient, they will be replaced by other apps in future.
  • Follow your nose! We have revamped our GIS infrastructure opening up the opportunity of significant future cost savings as a direct consequence of our need to provide mapping tools for this project.
  • Civic Apps are not as easily transferrable from one Council to another as you might expect.
  • In a shrinking Council, persuading others to prioritise your project can be difficult especially when there is nothing concrete to demonstrate. You need to have something to show people. Once we had a working app, we then found services coming on board as they could see how it could be used.

2. Crichton Institute: Regional Observatory

In promoting this project both within and beyond the region, both local and global issues have collided. It is clear that new technology has created an accelerating hunger for information and we have observed with interest the parallel dialogue around Open Government and the 'Smart City' agenda. It seems to us that there is something of gap in strategic thinking and policy and we have been asking the question: '…if there is such a thing as the Smart City, what would the Smart Countryside look like…?'. So there is a dialogue that needs to take place about rural-specific opportunities in the open sharing of data and service improvement and provision which we feel should follow.

The above issue is compounded by the overall capacity constraints which rural agencies face. While an obvious plea would be for more resources for rural areas in this field, there are perhaps more immediate advances that can be made by better sharing of experience and existing resources currently being directed to urban areas/solutions.

Rural areas have in general been poorly resourced in terms of data gathering, access and usage and D&G and the South of Scotland are no exception. In many cases, public and 3rd sector agencies have had to resource external consultancy to assist with even the most basic of regional data gathering and interpretation (the exception being the local NHS Board which has a well- resourced public health intelligence unit). Effective data sharing has, as a consequence, been somewhat the exception.

With a lack of capacity and no consistent track record of high level collaboration, the benefits to be derived from sound data management and data sharing have not been fully understood or exploited. While individual agencies are striving to take advantage of new information and communications technologies, the absence of effective data management is inhibiting the genuine desire to move to a more 'open government/open data' culture. Change in recent developments in Community Planning, a move towards better understanding the needs of service users and service integration (within and between agencies) is however supporting the drive towards a culture of open government/open data in the region.

The first step was to engage in discussions with the local Community Planning Partnership to ensure that there was a view that such a thing as a data observatory was needed, but also that there was high level cross-agency support for its development. The proposal was greeted with enthusiasm and two tranches of support funding for the early development stages of the Observatory.

With support secured, an initial Technical Group was established which included representatives from Dumfries and Galloway Council ( DGC ), NHS Dumfries and Galloway ( NHSDG ), Scottish Centre for Enabling Technologies ( SCET ) and the Crichton Institute ( CI ).

This group worked together to agree on the vision, look and feel of the online portal, the process of populating it, maintaining it and promoting it. As part of this some desk research was done to look into what other observatories and open data portals offer. Some of these were approached directly to inform us whether we were heading in the right direction. Armed with this background, a Project Initiation Document was agreed and specialist part-time consultancy engaged to convert the vision into reality.

One issue we struggled with was '…when do we go public…?' We were confident with the basic functionality/feel of the portal, but less assured on content issues. We have made life difficult with the notion that our customers would not just be the usual professional data-users. Our vision also included, for example, local P6 pupils using the portal for a project on "Jobs in our Region", complete with map-building and visualisation tools.

Phase 1 of the project is complete. We have a well- functioning and attractive portal. It is still fairly one-dimensional although we have now started to upload spatial data. We are now looking at how best to enhance the portal. Discussions at a Crichton Institute Partnership Board meeting and at the autumn workshop showed a great interest in RO providing access to a regional economic dashboard, providing instant, up-to-date access to key economic performance data for Dumfries and Galloway. Further wishes include access to interactive mapping and which is based on raw data.

Over the last 18 months, in addition to achieving our technical goals, we have significantly improved the level of inter-agency dialogue around the issue of Open/Shared Data and and its benefits. In what has been co-incidental good-timing, we set out on the journey at the same time as the Scottish Government was addressing the whole Open Government/Open Data agenda and it has been both helpful and re-assuring to share in the SG networks as we drove the project forward.

We have also come to see our limitations, which are beginning to affect the further development of the project:

Manpower and Commitment:

Technical expertise

During phase 1 we bought in technical expertise through one of our academic partners. However, being more familiar with the technical requirements to access open data and in turn to visualise it etc. we have become aware that other technical skills are needed.

Technical expertise in software development is now a real need and here we require someone who can also interact well with non-technical users to translate needs ideas into reality. (Having the job and person specification of the Nesta Code Fellow would be useful)

Public bodies are facing cuts and staff reductions, hence money for development of open data platforms is difficult to obtain.

Even when working with open source applications there are costs attached to the development, therefore it is vital to show efficiencies and other benefits, i.e. improved location based services, early on in the project

3. The City of Edinburgh Council: ARC-E App

The app enables the service area (Health & Social Care) to open up data of services. Previously service information for addition recovery support groups in Edinburgh had only been available through leaflet and PDF formats. An API was created with this data and can be shared with the app and other applications.

The app has been built so that it is scalable and more features can be added. The framework of the app can also be redeveloped to suit other groups with similar needs.

The approach taken to develop the app was an agile, co-creative approach. Through working this way the team have been able to develop the app with the Council service area and services users to ensure that the deliverables are being met and a worthwhile product is created.

Design & Build

The approach of the design was to a put the needs, wants and limitations of the users at the heart of the design process. From the start, the project ran focus groups with potential users of the app to inform on how to move forward. First the team made sure that the objectives reflected problems that impact recovering addicts and then tested and iterated on potential solutions using low-cost prototypes before implementing them.

To build the product, a version of the Scrum agile development approach was adopted and adapted to fit the small and distributed team. This approach recognises that requirements often change during a project and the team has to be in a position where it can quickly adapt to these changes.

The project was divided into objective themes. Each objective theme contained a collection of user stories and at the end of every iteration the team produced a build of the app. This build was tested against the user stories for the iteration and used as an artefact for user testing. This allowed the Council to assess the current build for milestone acceptance and potential users to test and feedback on its value to them. The outcomes of testing influenced the planning of future iterations e.g. new user stories maybe added to the backlog or remove ones that have been shown to be invalid. This ensures that a meaningful product is being built at every stage.

  • improve access to appropriate local support services and information about the service.
  • make it straightforward for users to reach out for immediate support in times of crisis.
  • help users keep track their appointments and commitments, related to managing their recovery.
  • keep users up-to-date on events organised by the council or by members of the recovery community that might be relevant to their recovery.
  • allow users to look back at daily messages to support motivation to stay on track.
  • allow users to access mindfulness activities, particular during a crisis/emergency.

The app is currently being tested and will launch in September 2015 therefore the actual user outcomes and benefits cannot be measured until after the app is released.

The main lessons learned have been around working co-creatively. The client (Health and Social Care) and the end user (people in recovery from addiction) have been involved at every step of the process. Working this way has ensured that milestones have been hit on time and on budget whilst creating and app that meets the user's needs and achieves the objectives set out by Health and Social Care.

4. The City of Edinburgh Council: Edinburgh Apps

This programme is completely transferrable to any other organisation and sector. We did not create something that was untried - civic challenge competitions take place all over the world, and are very successful. Supporting events, hack weekends, data days etc. are also happening widely, and are not expensive to do. All of these events add to learning and increases awareness of the power of open data. It is a new way of working, but it is already the way many companies work, and something the public sector needs to do to find efficient and cost effective solutions.

Our track record speaks for itself - our agile approach to development means we can build quality products quickly and we know they meet customer needs. Most of our products are shareable which means the public sector can use them right now.

At its core is a vision to change the city through encouraging innovation with technology, design and user-centric development. Edinburgh has exceptional design and tech communities and a large number of young companies in these areas whose fresh thinking mean that Edinburgh has great opportunities to produce original and cutting edge solutions to city challenges.

The programme of challenge events:

Edinburgh Apps was developed to support the Council's Open Data strategy. For each challenge, data sets are shared, increasing the Council's delivery of open data and opportunities for innovation EdinburghApps wants to change the city by providing creative, customer driven solutions to city challenges. It aims to work with everyone interested in making this change happen.

EdinburghApps began as an annual once a year competition with the Council providing challenges and teams taking part over 6/7 weeks to develop strong concepts or/and prototypes which are then judged in a final event. The winners then have the opportunity to work with the Council to develop their ideas, and deliver products.

EdinburghApps now runs a range of events to encourage solution finding working with key partners, Council officers and customers

All of these events aim to support partners in finding innovative solutions to business and city challenges. Data is a core requirement in all of this, and is published as open data whenever possible.

Winners of these events have the opportunity to take forward their proposal for development with the appropriate area.

The benefits of this approach are:

  • Delivery of new digital products which meet a clearly defined need
  • Delivery using an agile approach, and at a far reduced cost to working with larger companies
  • Customised solutions, co-created, which are built directly to meet requirements
  • Building longer term relationships with local IT & Digital companies
  • Opportunities to support the growth of the city's business economy

The competition event is now in its third year and has been very successful encouraging a wide range of entries and the delivery of a number of products. These include:

  • Tend - routing tool which optimises planning and deliveries for Health and Social Care's Equipment Store
  • Recycling Edinburgh - a location app for recycling facilities in the city
  • Run The City - an app aimed at visitors looking to explore the city using running routes, offering a commentary on places on interest
  • ARC -Edinburgh - a buddy app to support those in recovery programmes for addiction

In two cases the Council helped winners to start their business from scratch, and also supporting participants to find other business opportunities. We recently launched Edinburgh Up Close, working with technology developed by a winner from EdinburghApps 2013.

The event runs in three events - a kick off weekend, midway workshops and the judging final.

When EdinburghApps was first launched it was intended to bring about a number of benefits, including:

  • new thinking to solve city challenges
  • innovation in technology and design
  • the sharing of civic data
  • development of new businesses
  • social change for the city

The programme has achieved these outcomes, but it has also brought about much more:

  • innovative and cheaper solutions
  • improved sharing and publishing of open data
  • ongoing relationships with new businesses
  • change to ways of working
  • awareness raising for open data
  • new business thinking
  • benefits to customers

EdinburghApps' first year was a proof of concept - this is a good approach, it allows learning on format, process and outcomes. We have tweaked the main event and expanded to include a June event to build interest in the main competition. Longer term (funding permitting) having three a year is our aspiration, to continue to build relationships with the tech community and increase traction and knowledge sharing in the Council. We are working with other partners now as a logical progression in identifying 'city' challenges, not just service challenges. There are synergies for organisations both in terms of challenges and for product and data usage. We expand the sharing of data as well as the sharing of ideas.

  • Build support: it is important to have a suitable sponsor in your organisation (and some funding) to do this. Our first year proved it was possible - but we also could demonstrate it was being done elsewhere and this helped us find supporters. Align with relevant strategies in your organisation, this will also build support.
  • Changing business thinking: when we started this programme we didn't realise the impact of bringing business change into the Council. Inviting developers and designers to work with us brought fresh thinking and new ways of working. This has had an interesting internal ripple, and we now find service areas keen to see what can be achieved, not just with a product development, but for their service generally.
  • Data: this is the central component and takes time to find, cleanse and publish. This can be challenging and service areas may need help with this work. Ideally a data resource should be available to do this.
  • For the competition itself: we have discovered that a mix of skills works better for teams, and builds better prototypes, so we now advertise across a number of sectors. You need developers to support the whole event, provide mentoring and knowledge sharing, so build relationships with your local tech and design communities. Some teams have no idea how to deliver their idea - we are now offering a midway workshop to help them learn how to build a proposal, cost and plan their concept
  • Challenges: Whoever submits a challenge must now take part in the whole event, providing further information and advice for teams. This means that, whoever wins, the challenge owner is already engaged with them and it makes it easier to take the project forward.
  • Funding: funding has to be flexible. You run the competition, and then agree funding. Sometimes this may mean putting a bid into a particular call. Whilst it's very helpful to identify funding beforehand, it's not always possible. As it's a competition we meet procurement rules and this has made it easier to deliver projects.
  • Sponsors: a range of sponsors and types of sponsorship are required and this is time consuming to achieve. It is never too early to start working on this.
  • Communications: communication has to be regular and continue throughout the year, not just around events. This requires resource and should not be under-estimated. Engagement is essential to keep your audience interested and encourage them to come back each year.

Finally, and most importantly, look for any opportunity to work with others in this area. This is one approach but there many other methods for engaging and changing thinking, and developing open data. Build partnerships to make it easier to accomplish more. We work with individual developers and creatives as well as companies, and we do look for those who have the same goals for data and innovation and want to see change happen.

5. The City of Edinburgh Council: Run the City App

The Run the City App solves a challenge faced by running enthusiasts who are new to the city by providing routes. It increases users engagement with both the city by highlighting city sights and providing engaging an anecdotes.

The app has been built so it is scalable and with the intention that other cities and routes will be added.

Run the City is a guided tour for runners and winner of the 'wild card' challenge for EdinburghApps 2014. Runners will always get their run in, even when away on business, but running in a strange city is difficult when you don't know where to go. Run the City solves this challenge as the app, through audio messages, not only gives runners directions but also highlights their attention to the city sights and makes their run in Edinburgh more engaging with anecdotes about the areas they are running through.

It utilises the Council's open data as content for the app and will also create data we can make open.

The project was undertaken over two main stages the Build Phase, and the Beta Phase. The initial build phase allowed us to deliver a minimum value product which can be tested to ensure that we are on track to deliver our objectives before full build is complete. This also ensures we are building a valuable product that people want to use.

The team that are developing the app have been working co-creatively with the Council service area to ensure that the deliverables are being met.

Build Phase

The build phase developed the main components of the app (login, cities, routes, tracker, activity, settings, activity timer and location tracker pages.) In this phase, before building the user-interface of the app we created a route planning functionality, which allowed us to design and record routes to be uploaded into our app. The milestone for this phase will be the delivery of the MVP (Minimum Value Product)

This phase involves both production of the audio for the tour and device testing and user testing. The test app will be shared with runners/walkers around the city and asking them to use it and report back any ideas or issues they have. We anticipated that user testing of that app will take about three to four weeks but this is the most difficult phase to estimate as the results of these tests may determine that extra work will be required to complete.

An engaging running app, which considers routes which would appear to walkers, has been created using Council open data. The app has been aligned to Edinburgh Outdoors and has created the additional benefit of creating data which can be shared.

The app is currently being tested and will launch in September 2015 therefore the actual user outcomes and benefits cannot be measured until after the app is released.

So far lessons learnt have been around troubleshooting issues with the technology. There have been issues with calibrating the app and therefore as anticipate the testing the beta phase is taking longer than expected.

Adopting Linked Open Data can benefit the wider heritage community through improving standards and introducing efficiencies. The benefits of publishing controlled vocabularies are starting to be realised. Simply by adding a SENESCHAL RESTful service into their Collections Management System, the Archaeology Data Service, University of York were able to access the authoritative controlled vocabularies remotely. This not only eliminates errors that inevitably creep in through free text typing but improves the consistency of indexing records.

Controlled vocabularies are key to both the storage of information in the database and its discovery online. In particular, we use thesauri to help classify the types of monument, object and maritime craft associated with each site record. We encourage the use of thesauri standards amongst local Historic Environment Records ( HER s), who maintain databases about the historic environment for local authority areas across Scotland, and more widely amongst the profession.

For cultural heritage, demand for Linked Open Data came from the research community. They saw the absence of controlled vocabularies as limiting opportunities for combining data from different providers through semantic links.

Major controlled vocabularies should act as hubs for the Web of Data, but publication as free text strings limits opportunities for connecting to data published elsewhere. Although we publish our controlled vocabularies online as thesauri, they are not particularly visible. The thesaurus for architecture, implemented in 2005, limits the potential of the terminology as the terms lack the persistent Uniform Resource Identifiers ( URI s) that would allow our resources to act as hubs for the Web of Data. Adopting a Simple Knowledge Organisation System, or SKOS, using the Resource Description Framework ( RDF ) provides a more flexible approach enabling the vocabulary owner to define a concept rather than the term. Each concept is expressed as a URI . The concept may then be expressed in any number of ways including alternate labels, dialect terms or in different languages.

The development of Linked Open Data for cultural heritage is part of good practice, helping to deliver Government policy towards transparency and Open Data. Scotland's Open Data Strategy encourages Public Data to be published in reusable, machine readable form under an open licence which enables free reuse, including commercial reuse to open standards following relevant recommendations of the World Wide Web Consortium. Moreover, Public Data from different departments about the same subject will be published in the same, standard formats and with the same definitions. Defining the concepts used to index records about cultural heritage is a first step towards meeting that goal. It introduces the standards and machine-readable formats necessary for interoperability. However, before becoming operational, it requires acceptance of the standards, investment in research and development time beyond the day-to-day operations of many organisations.

The solution was to find partners who understood the Linked Open Data requirements and to secure funding to enable the research and publication of Linked Open Data. We were fortunate that colleagues at English Heritage already had an established relationship with the Hypermedia Research Unit at the University of South Wales and that there was a shared recognition of the need to publish our vocabularies as Linked Open Data.

The partnership approach between a university research department and public bodies enabled a successful application to the Arts and Humanities Research Council for a one year Knowledge Exchange project. This made it significantly easier for vocabulary providers, such as RCAHMS , to make their vocabularies available as Linked Data and for users to index their data with uniquely identified (machine readable) controlled terminology that is semantically enriched and compatible with Linked Data.

Intended Outcome

Actual Outcome

Freely accessible and reusable persistent vocabulary resources as linked data, the techniques to achieve this being made freely available.

Achieved: http://heritagedata.org established as the home for Cultural heritage reference vocabularies and concept schemes published for RCAHMS Monument Type, Archaeological Objects and Maritime Craft Type

Each concept has its own unique reference indicator.

Achieved: Downloads, Services and Widgets published. Users are able to download the vocabularies in various flavours of RDF (N-Triples, Turtle, JSON or XML ). A series of REST URI calls have been developed for the vocabularies with results returned in a JSON structured string which permit AJAX callbacks for use in browser based applications.

The project has also developed a suite of predefined visual user interface tools, or widgets.

Mechanism for feedback of supplementary terms to augment existing vocabularies

Raising the profile of Linked Open Data with Historic Environment data curators in Scotland

Achieved: through a workshop was held in Edinburgh at the end of the project for stakeholders and presentations on Linked Open Data to stakeholder groups.

Demonstrating application of approach to handle multi-lingual expressions of concepts: During the course of the project we were able to make use of Gaelic translations of the monument type vocabulary provided by Historic Scotland from a Bòrd na Gàidhlig funded project.

So a concept may now be expressed in English or Gaelic, with a preferred or alternate label.

Publishing the terminologies as Linked Open Data is the first tentative step toward delivering cultural heritage data as 5 star data. Maintenance and update of the terminologies is not seamless and requires periodic data uploads, so the vocabularies may not be up-to-date instantaneously.

Exposing controlled vocabularies is inevitably organisation-driven and there is a need, where appropriate, to align vocabularies by theme to deliver further efficiencies in maintaining and developing resources. Through our membership of MEDIN we are exploring opportunities to develop more marine and maritime-related Linked Data vocabularies with colleagues in Belfast and Dublin.

The benefits of Linked Open Data have still to be fully realised within the business and more widely across the heritage community. However, making the terminology more openly accessible as Linked Data should encourage wider adoption of standard terminology, develop interoperability with other related resources, and encourage community feedback on possible improvements to the vocabularies. Opportunities will continue as part of the new organisation Historic Environment Scotland when RCAHMS and Historic Scotland come together in October 2016 to form the new lead body for Scotland's historic environment.

7. Registers of Scotland (RoS): Cadastral data for the INSPIRE directive

RoS is proud to be at the forefront of the provision of spatial data. We would recommend any approach that supports collective management and publication of spatial information. The challenges faced internally are far outweighed by benefits realised in the short and longer term.

The experience we have gained over the last seven years with INSPIRE has led us to increasingly identify considerable benefits of a coherent, trusted, and consistent set of information on land and property in Scotland. Enabling access to core land and property information in one place where it can be made available to all is increasingly important for Scotland as a whole.

The Scottish government is responsible for the management of INSPIRE in Scotland. The management is coordinated by the Spatial Information Board and work has been broken down into five main areas. The two areas of interest to RoS are land, property and addressing and service delivery and technical implementation. All EU member states are required to submit a monitoring report with details of available datasets to the European Commission every May. You can read the UK 's most recent monitoring report here.

Our first step was to establish a project and project team to handle the legal, commercial and technical aspects of INSPIRE.

As well as the technical requirements, we had to consider the wider implications of INSPIRE on our business and staff. These included the effect on our commercial activity and the types of services we offered, our IT infrastructure, and any legal impact on our day-to-day activity. Each of these requirements was processed by a small multi-disciplinary team reporting back to the project board who led the overall INSPIRE strategy.

The nature of the legislation naturally broke the project into a number of phases, each of which required an increasing level of resource and budget.

  • Phase 1: metadata - in May 2011, we complied delivering GEMINI 2.1 metadata describing our land register data and the future web mapping service ( WMS ).
  • Phase 2: discovery and view services - in November 2011, RoS provided access to the metadata created in phase 1 to the Scottish Spatial Data Infrastructure. At the same time, RoS provided a view of its initial cadastral parcel data. For the deadline, RoS chose to use the services of a third party (ThinkWhere) to host the WMS element of the service.
  • Phase 3: download - RoS delivered a service that will allow a customer to download all or part of our land register dataset. RoS again chose to use professional services of a Think Where to host the download service. Licensing considerations on the reuse of data were investigated and led to the creation of an INSPIRE download license.
  • Phase 4: fully compliant - this phase will deliver full inspire compliance by supplying parcelled cadastral data by November 2017.

RoS has delivered the first three phases and is on course to fully comply by November 2017. The service is being increasingly used by customers and has sparked wider thinking about our data within RoS.

Although the investment in INSPIRE can be onerous, there are considerable benefits that can be accrued if your organisation is committed to INSPIRE. For RoS, this meant spatial data has been brought to the forefront of the business, improved our expertise, developed staff, and led to several customer-focussed initiatives. The core aspect of INSPIRE, data, and access to it, led us to re-evaluating data and data quality, as well as influencing a wider digital transformation project.

8. Scotland's Environment Web: EcoHack

Scotland's Environment Web wants to help people discover and understand more about the environment. Environmental data is really important - to provide context to reports on the state and quality of the environment, to improve our understanding of the challenges and opportunities our environment faces, and encourage communities, school children and individuals to investigate their own local environment further, observing what is happening around them, collect their own data and take action to protect and improve their local environment.

Putting our objectives into practice, a hackathon event was organised over the weekend of 30th and 31st May 2015. Students from universities throughout Scotland were invited to Edinburgh, to come up with fresh new innovative ideas to make better use of available data, and to collect new local environmental data that can help further our understanding, and encourage people to get interested and get involved in Scotland's Environment.

Interest was generated in the event via a number of routes:

  • We had university lecturers and students on the steering group and who also helped out as mentors so were able to help spread the word to their students and peers.
  • A leaflet was sent to all universities and posted on their facebook pages.
  • For students one of the most accessible forms of quickly sharing information is on social media, with a lot of co-ordinated information sharing posts on facebook and twitter (#ScotEcoHack) in the run up to and during the event that were shared and retweeted to an extended audience, bringing lots of new twitter followers to @ScotEnvironment following #ScotEcoHack

Examples of the interest generated on twitter can be found here.

The EcoHack challenge

During the weekend event we challenged teams of students and mentors to explore data and develop ideas that could make a real difference in helping people observe, monitor, educate and take action in the environment. Ideas were encouraged around exploring new data relationships to help analyse the state of our environment and the impact it has on us, develop apps that use and visualise data to help explain and view the environment, and provide new ways of collecting and viewing data.

A wide range of open source data was available to the teams - dataset list - and they were allowed to choose any platform and programming language and spent the weekend collaborating and being creative, innovative and inventive.

In the run up to the event, we provided links to information about a range of environmental issues to inspire new Ecohack ideas, covering topics such as Air Pollution, Water, Soil, Young People and Citizen Science, Environmental data, Nature, data visualisation, EcoSchools, Climate Change and communities, mobile apps, infographics.

EcoHack mentors

We couldn't have run the event without the help and support from our mentors. With a wide range of skills and experience, they were on hand to provide advice and guidance to the students throughout the development of their ideas from initial scoping and definition right through to the development and presentation of the prototypes. Some of the mentors saw some real opportunities in using some of their own data and tapping into the expertise of their mentor colleagues, and worked together to develop some of their own ideas to share with us at EcoHack.

Feedback from all who attended was overwhelmingly positive and we hope to keep in touch with many of those who supported the event - judges, mentors and students. The standard of ideas was very high and in the end the judges selected 2 winning ideas and 1 runner up. More information on the winning ideas and a video of soundbites from the event on the EcoHack webpage.

9. Scottish Government: Dialogue App

In the digital age you need to find new and innovate ways to make the public want to engage with you. They are being inundated everyday with information and you need to make your requests stand out. If you want the public to respond you need to make it simple, quick and easy - people will be put off if they have to jump through hoops.

People are generally positive and keen for public authorities to try new ways of digital engagement. Don't be afraid to experiment with new tools, find what works best for your organisation and its needs.

The Open Data Strategy made a commitment that we would engage with the public to discover what types of public sector data and formats would like to see released as open data. The Dialogue App to enable everyone to participate in an open discussion about what types of data they would like to see released. The format of the Dialogue App also encouraged users to fully explain why they thought the release of that particular data was important, allowing us to gain a better understanding of the viewpoints submitted.

The wording of the question was specifically chosen to be as open as possible. This was to ensure that we did not influence the ideas submitted and it gave users the freedom to submit any ideas they may have had. Succinct background information on open data and that strategy was provided to ensure that users understood what we were asking and why.

  • Dialogue App discussion took place between 8th June and 14 July.
  • A total of 18 ideas were posted from 9 individuals which in turn received 8 comments.
  • A further 11 individuals signed up to the Dialogue but did not contribute to the discussion.

This summary will not explain the ideas in detail, you can read all ideas in full online. The ideas covered a wide range of topics. The image below shows the areas the topics broadly covered.


This image shows the 'tags' submitted by users to describe their idea

Of the 17 ideas submitted, 10 of them received ratings from other users (18 ratings in total) and 4 received comments. Due to the relatively small number of submissions the ability to analyse, obtain insights and conclusions is limited. The following analysis should be read with the limitations in mind.

The following table lists the ideas submitted by users:

Formats (if mentioned)

Average Score (if rated)

Release data set of Polling Station Locations and coverage

Release data set of candidates standing at election as soon as possible

Recently validated planning applications - GeoRSS or similar.

Shape files of administrative boundaries

Join up existing sources - encourage use of linked data

Boundaries and details of common good lands and assets

Local authorities register of assets

Town Centre Access Standards

Community Centre Information

Public authority abandoned buildings

The above summary shows that there were a wide range of ideas, covering many topics. Whilst many of the submissions had a clear idea about what type of information they would like to see released (and what information the dataset should contain), very few made any suggestions about format. The only suggestions around format concerned spatial data.

The most popular idea in terms of both comments and ratings was ' rental statistics'. This idea concerned the release of data concerning the private rental sector and the user provided ideas of the type of information which would be useful. This idea received a full 5 star rating based on 5 votes. It also received 3 comments which were in full support of the idea.

Nearly a quarter of all ideas submitted concerned the release of information on public sector assets, both physical (land, buildings etc) and non-physical (asset registers). This suggests that the release of this information would be popular and well received by the public, although with the caveat that only a small number of people responded to the discussion.

This was the first time that the Dialogue App had been used by the Scottish Government, so we didn't know what to expect. The main 'lessons' were:


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