A quick note off the back of having a look through Leeds Data Mill’s data sets.

There are 78 data sets:

Firstly, I was surprised by the high number of contributions so far by Leeds City Council - and actively continue to contribute to - excellent from a body that seems to be pushing for and embracing the concept of ‘open’ (and justifying their support of the Data Mill).

Second though, I was surprised that the number of bodies contributing was just the three. I expected that number to be higher than three.

My surprise? Possibly based on the perception of Leeds having a very active open community, at least a large number of people talking about open culture, open data, and attending events surrounding those ideas.

What organisations was I expecting? I am fascinated at the moment by the space that sits between public and private, which I’d say already-contributing Yorkshire Water inhabits. WY Metro are probably another example of such a body, and probably in my mind because of Transport for London’s open API. So are Network Rail, who operate Leeds’s train station. (I am slowly building up a list here.)

Why is just those three? What is holding other organisations and businesses back from contributing data?

Is it there are more organisations in the Leeds area that are openly making data available, just they are not contributing to the Leeds Data Mill? Let’s get them linked to on the Data Mill!

You might be reading this and know a body you feel that could, maybe should be contributing openly. What is holding this release of data back? Knowing what ‘open’ means? Sensitivity around data? Needing training to upload data? Organisational structural issues, such as permission from a manager? Maybe not knowing a platform like the Leeds Data Mill exists? Thinking that the data has “no value”? Something else? Whatever barriers there are to that data you think could be offered up it’d be interesting to have that discover those to see what could be done to allow that access, however slim.

Is it there are more organisations in the Leeds area that are open, and are making data available - just they are not represented on the Leeds Data Mill?

And what about the data known to be openly out there, data people choose to openly make available through services such as Runkeeper’s HealthGraph and Strava’s APIs? Could the Data Mill link to that data to make the process of acquiring it more open, more accessible?

All questions, and I am sure there are answers - and it’s interesting to dig further.

The Data Mill is a great opportunity to galvinise and centralise data around a geographical area, and I am just curiously as an outsider poking to see how it can be built upon.

Data will not save the world, let alone the local region. However curious people taking that data might. It’s a What if? situation.

What if you just threw data out into the world, just to see what people can do with it?

What’s stopping the data you know about enabling that What if? Let’s find out.


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