A site about how community groups and charities can make the most of data and open data to do something useful. Focused on Birmingham, relevant everywhere.

SpeedData: Chris Taggart and OpenlyLocal


Chris has been working for about a year on the OpenlyLocal site, which collects information on councils and councillors across the country. He made a very interesting point immediately, saying that all good things start with a small step, trying to solve a simple question, while all the bad, expensive complicated things that don’t work, start of trying to answer all questions.

In the case of OpenlyLocal that simple, small step was building a list of councillors. Now he covers all the councils in the country and provides a host of information. Now the site provides information for each postcode, giving you lists of councillors, police officers and other useful data.

Chris made a point of showing that all the information is linked. He believes there is tremendous value in this, because more understanding is created by seeing the relationships between information.

OpenlyLocal is continuing to expand. Thanks to Matthew Sommerville they now generate local information for each postcode, giving you councillors, police officers, census information and will shortly tell you crime stats for the area. There are some problems, however. Chris talked about the problem of matching Police constabularies to areas, which isn’t as simple as it sounds.

To try to solve the problem Chris phoned up someone at the Home Office, who after asking around was able to provide a spreadsheet that was two years out of date. In the end most of the task had to be done manually.

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