Bristol. One City. Our Data

Written by Hannah Boast on 05 Aug, 19
City-wide innovation ecosystem

People and organisations are increasingly becoming aware of how to use and benefit from data. At Bristol City Council, we are doing some pioneering work coordinated by the City Innovation team. We have been supporting the local data scene with an innovative Our Data programme including a number of engagement activities.  

The Our Data initiative has created a structured sequence of activities that bring focus to local challenges and priorities – aligned with Bristol City Council Corporate and the One City Plan objectives.

Bristol City Council’s Open Data project manager, with support from This Equals, The Data Place, strategic programme development partners, and local public, private and third sector organisations, have run eight events and developed an open community document.  

Here’s an overview of just some of the work that has been done. Coming out of these events were a number of commissioned projects. You can read more about them here

Events 

Starting with a kick-off event in July 2018, the focus has been on addressing the four priorities that make up Bristol City Council’s Corporate Strategy – Empowering and Caring; Fair and Inclusive; Well Connected; and Wellbeing. Since then, we have been reflecting on and building an open community document  with input from a wide range of stakeholders. This is a live document so please add any comments you may have and these will be reviewed for inclusion on an ongoing basis.

In the first series of events, we focused on Well Connected, and in the second, on Fair and Inclusive. We are partway through a series focusing on Empowering and Caring with a hackathon in October 2019. And keep an eye out for our upcoming hackathon with Innovate UK and Bath Hacked in November. The remaining BCC corporate theme of Wellbeing will be picked up early 2020. Plans to use the One City themes as headline banners for engagement activities 2020 and beyond are being discussed

Each of the series has been made up of three types of events:

  • a stakeholder event to develop ideas, identify key local issues, and develop a resource base;
  • a hackathon to identify and build solutions, and; 
  • commissioning events at which teams pitched their ideas with the winners receiving £1,500 and mentoring. This is to make their projects a reality. 

Well-connected – Taking bold and innovative steps to make Bristol a joined up city, linking up people with jobs and with each other*

In these events, there was a clear focus on transport and connectivity, and homes and communities. You can read more about the October 2018 event here.  

Speakers included:

  • Marius Jennings, Open Data Manager at BCC –  Marius gave an update on the project as well as details of the dynamic Bristol API (powered by Urban Things) and the Open Data Bristol platform (powered by OpenDataSoft).
  • James Snelgrove, Delivery Manager at BCC – James presented on Bristol’s One City Plan and the city’s vision for 2050. Of particular interest is the role of open data in contributing to city metrics and the City Dashboard.
  • Penny Germon, Neighbourhoods & Communities Service Manager at BCC – explored the challenges and needs of the city’s local communities. Open data was looked at as an enabler of wisdom to support these needs.
  • Jim Burgess, Bristol is Open – spoke about how innovation is in the DNA of Bristol, learnings from technology trials, the big challenges facing the city, and how the organisation enables works with all stakeholders to create inclusive Digital and Social change.
  • John Kellas, CEO at This Equals – John spoke about the Bristol Open Data platform’s capabilities, understanding what data is, the data spectrum as well as cross-sector networking.

This event fed into a Well Connected hackathon, held at Just Eat

The Commissioning event hosted nine projects presenting to Councillor Cheney – Deputy Mayor, and other prestigious judges. 

Fair and inclusive – Improving economic and social equality, pursuing economic growth which includes everyone and making sure people have access to good quality learning, decent jobs and homes they can afford.

In February 2019, 48 people came together, including from government, the third sector, the technology sector, as well as open data enthusiasts. You can find out more here

Team Triffids, who were commissioned to develop their project in November 2018, presented. They gave an update on how the project had progressed.  

Other presentations included:

The Fair and Inclusive hackathon held at Raw Space included  around 30 people learning about and developing data solutions to real world local issues and challenges. 

The Commissioning event held at the Watershed hosted 10 local projects. The projects ranged from a musical way to understand socioeconomic data relevant to wards in  Bristol, to cycle routes and cycle amenity projects.

The three projects chosen for the £1,500 commission included: 

  • a chatbot interface for Open Data Bristol;
  • understanding how we can reduce the amount of single use plastics going into landfill via using them for ‘Ecobricks’, and; 
  • a pothole sensor project. 

You can read more on how these projects have progressed here.

 

Empowering and Caring – Working with partners to empower communities and individuals, increase independence, support those who need it and give children the best possible start in life*

Following a well attended stakeholder engagement event at the Watershed on April 29th,  plans for trailing two new formats of hackathons are in gestation. In Autumn 2019, the Empowering and Caring series of events continue. Keep an eye out for further detail. 

 

Widening participation 

A core aspect of this work has been to widen participation in discussing the role of data, how it is being used, and what more is needed. Essential to this has been the development of a collaborative document. 

In addition is the building of a Git repository. Git is a version-controlled system for tracking changes in source code used in the development of computer software. Think of it as a social networking site for software developers. 

Bristol.codes gitlab space has been created to host a copy of the computational code that powers the various data projects. Bristol codes is allowing people interested in developing a digital commons base to cohere around a geographically related repository, in this case, Bristol. This is being treated as an experiment and the intention is to share learnings in 2019/2020.

What’s on the horizon 

Further events are in development. And in the meantime, you might be interested in getting involved in:

Contact the Open Data team via opendata@bristol.gov.uk or join the Our Data meetup group.

*See Bristol City Council’s Corporate Strategy page. Further details can be found in Bristol City Council’s Corporate Strategy 2018-2023.

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