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RAWM working on development of a Birmingham Data & Skills Hub

Tue, 09/12/2014

RAWM working on development of a Birmingham Data & Skills Hub

A consortium led by Birmingham City Council has secured funding from the Cabinet Office to support the development of a Birmingham Data & Skills Hub.

It is hoped the hub will act as a catalyst to encourage citizens, communities and third sector organisations to understand the value of open data analysis to help address community issues that matter most to them.

The consortium, including partners from Aston University, Boilerhouse Media, Podnosh and RAWM (Regional Action West Midlands), has received £124,000 from the Cabinet Office’s Release of Data Fund that will help accelerate and automate open data extraction and publication processes from Birmingham City Council’s systems and others onto Birmingham’s new Open Data Hub that is currently under development.

A number of other groups will also be involved such as Open Mercia, West Midlands Open Data Forum, and community groups in Castle Vale and Sparkbrook Ward – who have voiced a need for better data analysis to help them campaign, plan and influence commissioning of services and support service planning.

However, their ambitions are currently being stifiled by a lack of awareness and data literacy skills, but to tackle this Podnosh and RAWM are developing a range of open data engagement activities including the use of the award-winning Social Media Surgeries and working with existing neighbourhood groups to develop residents’ interest in data analysis and enhance the activity of networks.

The funding also includes the development of easy to use visualisation tools by Boilerhouse that will help create a level playing field in the use of data for third sector organisations, communities and members of the public, decreasing the need for technical skills by providing simple-to-use interfaces and applications.

Cllr Lisa Trickett, Cabinet Member for Green, Smart and Sustainable City at Birmingham City Council, said: “Release and use of data is at the heart of helping us build greater transparency.

“Enabling citizens and communities to understand the data will support them to gain new insights and evidence to embed improvements, drive community enterprise and make best use of available funds to commission better targeted services and allocate resources to areas of most need.”

All of the data published, visualisation tools and training materials will be freely available under Open Government License and Creative Commons for re-use as part of the project funding and a full evaluation report, undertaken by Aston University, will be published on completion of the project.

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