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: Nick Booth – Help Me Investigate and Social Media Surgeries


Nick talked all about how people are beginning to skill up to use the web in new and very powerful ways.

First Nick pointed out that public organisations are already under considerable scrutiny – by showing a video he’d shot of traffic wardens illegally parked in his street.

He then talked about Help Me Investigate and how an investigation into where the most parking tickets were being issued in Birmingham. Nick explained that Neil Houston was inspired by the investigation to send Freedom of Information requests to every local authority in the country, in which he asked not only for the parking ticket data but how the authority was collecting the information. When one authority asked said providing the information would cost £320,000, he was able to point to another authority, using the same system, which had provided the information for free.

Similarly, Nick has been running the social media surgeries, which teach people from voluntary and community organisations how to use social media – such as blogging. These people are all beginning to use the web in new and interesting ways, but most importantly they’re beginning to master new skills that are changing their capacity to interact with the web and data.

Nick’s point was that many more people are now learning how to use the web to improve the way they collect and share information, which it’s important that public authorities respond to.

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