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.

How using better data and being better informed can get you more of what you need


It matters when what you do changes something – this was a tweet from last month…

Yes that’s not a guarantee of change, but it’s evidence of a big step towards it.

Lisa Trickett is Marcus Belben’s local councillor.

Earlier this month Steph Clarke spend some time with Marcus  at the social media surgery we hold for Moseley and Kings Heath.  This is what Marcus said they covered:

Using data from doorda, crashmap, police.uk and road-collisions dft to find out and represent info on road safety and crime for a community group. Steph very helpful and explained clearly the sources available and how we could use in future.

Among other things he’s interested in, Marcus puts a lot of energy into make local streets safer, partly by trying to slow down traffic and also by encouraging more people to use the streets. Marcus is already pretty savvy with social media and has himself helped others at the surgeries and uses it to campaign for improvement:


He blogged about what they looked at together:

We have been documenting probems ourself (see our journeys to school, 1 (Arthur’s), 2 (Me, Jago and Freya), & 3(from 2013)) but data freely available online has really made the difference to prove the need for change.  Thanks to Podnosh and their Kings Heath and Moseley social media surgery, we’ve been able to access all the information we need for this, and pretty much anything else.

Marcus plans to use the information to also be better informed when talking to local police and council officers.  So one open data social media surgery has provided one group with enough extra info to hopefully influence their local council to slow down traffic on a road they consider dangerous.

Is that enough?  Of course it is, for now.

The whole point of the open data work we’re doing with the community groups who come to the social media surgeries is to help them achieve more. Those achievements can be big, but in reality they tend to be small, incremental progress.  That’s a good thing, because small improvements not only make the places we live in better, they are often easier to accomplish, so they can lead to lots of small ways we can build better relationships with public servants, politicians and other active citizens.

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