“What Works”: iNetwork Innovation Awards 2015
Title: Community Impact Mitigation
Organisation(s): Sedgemoor District Council
Author: Paul Davidson
Service area*1*: 1577. Open data publication, 720. Community Strategy, 366. Community Engagement
Description of project
We have taken published documents about the impacts, and mitigating projects, of the site preparation and build of the proposed Hinkley Point Power Station, and republished them as ‘Linked Data’ using an open source publishing platform.
The preparation of the proposed power station will have a significant impact on many of our communities. These impacts have been assessed in detail during the planning process, leading to the publication of very large documents, each typically over 500 pages. Here is a typical impact extracted from these reports, referring to the village of Combwich:
“The increase in vehicles travelling to the HPC Site during construction will increase the potential for collisions on the local road network as well as causing congestion. Given the limited route choices for those living within the village, this will increase local journey times and cause disruption to local road users” Local Impact Report – page 103 of 540
The project has established a standards based, repeatable method for taking these documents, and publishing them as ‘5* ‘Linked Data’ so that people and communities can find out how they will be impacted, the projects designed to help, and how to access funding for local projects.
What makes this initiative remarkable?
We have used open standards and open source throughout to minimise cost and maximise our reach. In particular …
We have followed the guidance provided by iStandUk in their document ‘Publishing Local 5* Data’. Publishing in this form was attractive because:
• this is not simple 2-dimensional data that can be listed as a spreadsheet;
• this data is a dynamic ‘look forward’ rather than a snapshot ‘look back’;
• we can link to other data about our communities rather than having to create that ourselves;
• we can extend the scope of the data into other parts of our business • we can invite others to publish their data that refer to our projects, communities, impacts etc
Our data model complies with the BSI’s Smart City Concept Model, which has enabled us to restructure our information over concepts for LOCATION, COMMUNITY, ASSUMPTION, PROJECT, RESOURCE, and so on.
We have also made use of the Natural Neighbourhoods facility, from the LGA’s ‘esd tookit’, which then also gave us access to METRICs information about places and communities.
We have set up an open source ‘Linked Data’ publishing architecture on our infrastructure which minimises the ongoing revenue costs.
What has the project achieved?
A local councillor remarked …
“Until now we have had to rely on very big documents and reports, that are designed for a planning process, not for people in communities to use. I have been impressed how this previously “buried” information has been made accessible and useable. I have absolutely no doubt that not only will my community really benefit in being able to make a better case for money for projects, but that the ability to provide open data for projects such as this will have very wide reaching and positive potential across the country. This is what open data should be all about, empowering communities to make a real difference in their area.”
Our web application presents information pulled from the ‘Linked Data’ service. A visitor can follow their own thread through the data; perhaps they wish to see what impacts have been identified for a community, or why certain projects have been approved, and so on.
We have recognised that we can improve our approach to communicating complex issues and opportunities to our communities, so that local people and communities are informed and engaged. Directors are now keen that we should use these techniques to structure our information from the outset for similar initiatives.