Having joined the West Midlands Open Data Forum in November 2013, I realise how important it is to capture and store local open data. The government’s data.gov.uk is a good resource for national datasets, but doesn’t contain the local regional data we need for the West Midlands. Other regional datastores have sprung up in recent years, including the London Datastore, Data GM (Greater Manchester), and Leeds Data Mill.
With many extolling the virtues of open data, there are many more who, under pressure from reduced budgets and staff, contract conditions, and lack of knowledge, are wondering what all the fuss is about.
Regardless, the movement continues to grow, and although it’s taken a while to get a local data store for the West Midlands, the concerted effort spurred on by the Open Knowledge Foundations’ Open Data Day on 22nd February 2014 has brought the concept to reality (article by Vicky Sargent gives details).
The West Midlands Open Data Forum supports those who want to explore how open data can be put to use to make the West Midlands a better place to live:
- Perhaps your organisation would like to contribute data, or would like some help to understand what open data is all about?
- You might spend your spare (or paid!) time using open data to create apps to provide information to your customers
- Maybe you are a journalist who would like to use regional data in your stories
With particular interests in Healthcare (Susannah Goh / Andrew Mackenzie), Education (Simon Whitehouse) and Transport (Teresa Jolley), the Forum (@wmodf) will help anyone in the region learn more about open data and what you can do to get involved. The West Midlands Open Data Store is a valuable asset for us all; let’s see what we can do with it.