On 20th September 2016, iNetwork partnered with Sheffield City Council to host “Making Better Decisions with Open Data”. In recent years, Sheffield has been developing a vibrant open data community and a council that is fostering the environment and infrastructure needed to enable the benefits of open data to be realised. This event aimed specifically to showcase what has been achieved in Sheffield and further afield across the local public sector.


Held inside the magnificent rooms of Sheffield’s Town Hall, the conference saw nearly 100 delegates from across the public sector come together to explore and discuss how we can engage and energise decision-makers working in or with NHS, local authorities and social housing by illustrating the benefits of opening up data. Delegates then discussed how, through publishing open data, better outcomes can be delivered for residents, patients, businesses, voluntary and public services which could ultimately improve people’s lives.



If you are an iNetwork member and would like to access the resources from this conference you can find the links at the bottom of this post. To learn more about the day and to hear some fascinating attendee perspectives, please see the two blogs below, kindly written and shared by delegates Paula Parkinson and Nazia Kosar from City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council.



This Blog was contributed by Paula Parkinson, City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council.


One of the great things about being part of Bradford Council’s newly formed Data and Information team is getting to meet and listen to other people who are leading and innovating in this ever-changing world of Open Data. 


The Sheffield conference – attended by around 80 delegates – was a timely opportunity to do just that. It was great to see our partners from @DataMillNorth in the audience, as well as familiar faces like Jamie Whyte, who was talking about his inspiring work at Trafford.  What was also good was the range of speakers and delegates who came from all parts of the public and 3rd sectors, eg local government, NHS, Ordnance Survey, LGA and universities.


The one-day agenda was a varied mix of presentations from leading figures in the Open data world, together with more interactive sessions and workshops in smaller groups. The day was interspersed with regular breaks and opportunities to network.


For myself, having a background in public sector finance, I was particularly interested in Sunderland City Council’s session on Data-driven redesign. Sharon Lowes, the Council’s Senior Intelligence Lead, talked about setting up a new Intelligence Service made up of herself and 4 Data Scientists, working with a partner to bring the Council’s data assets, which resided on 300++ separate systems, together into one hub.  Something that Bradford has just embarked on a journey towards. 

With their systems in place, Sunderland can provide analytical capability and tools that enhance or radically improve service delivery.  An example of this is the visualisation of multi-agency contacts of an individual adult client over time:


paula pic


  • The key feature was that this could be delivered within timescales typically ranging from 5 weeks to 3 months.



This Blog was contributed by Nazia Kosar, City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council.


Making Better Decisions with Open Data, was an insightful event creating openness in the daily and overall struggle met with open data. It highlighted issues such as culture change, data storing/filtering, governance and sometimes the most missed aspect in dealing with open data, taking a profound look at the question itself.


An important point was raised at the event, do people know why data is being collected and have they seen any results. Though having come a long way with data as a field of study, majority of the public still perceive and live in fear that data collection is a form of spying on individuals. To people within/interested in the field of analysing data seeing results is inevitable, however for individuals outside this field need to be conveyed the importance of data.


Alongside this is another aspect of the presentation which related to me due to my background in mathematics. The presentation was given by Rick Moynihan, a software developer and the head of engineering at Swirrl, a platform set up for publishing data. The talk: “Numbers, places, decisions. Connecting data to the web with PublishMyData.” discussed the understanding in the formation and dimensions of data.


The data cube concept highlighted, is an important model in not just comprehension of the data but within the manipulation of the data too. Releasing more information, since the cube is not restricted rather it is dynamic with ability for rotation, slicing, dicing, locking variables, all of this allowing further breakdown of data. 



Resources from #OpenDataSheffield:


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Just arrived at Sheffield and be there in 10. Great agenda for the day <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/opendatasheffield?src=hash">#opendatasheffield</a> <a href="https://t.co/gooDVZp9lx">https://t.co/gooDVZp9lx</a></p>— Charles MacKinnon (@ChasMacKinnon) <a href="https://twitter.com/ChasMacKinnon/status/778148065790287872">September 20, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Wholeheartedly agree with <a href="https://twitter.com/undertheraedar">@undertheraedar</a> - we need more people to build the bridges between data and knowledge. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/opendatasheffield?src=hash">#opendatasheffield</a></p>— Jamie Whyte (@northernjamie) <a href="https://twitter.com/northernjamie/status/778165241658179584">September 20, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Super interesting talk on co-creating gov services with data and <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MVP?src=hash">#MVP</a>'s by <a href="https://twitter.com/Jagusti">@Jagusti</a> at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/opendatasheffield?src=hash">#opendatasheffield</a> really relevant for <a href="https://twitter.com/OpenGovInt">@OpenGovInt</a></p>— Enemy of State (@RickMoynihan) <a href="https://twitter.com/RickMoynihan/status/778169301308207108">September 20, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>