A while ago, I posted here giving reasons why I thought it would be a good idea to start involving school pupils in the processing of public data.
There are strong democratic arguments for doing this – ones that aren’t immediately obvious. There are also good ‘transparency’ arguments (but I’d make my usual point here about transparency and democracy not always pulling in the same direction).
Local Ward Atlas data - click to explore it
There are two other reasons why this is worth doing:
- It’ll be fun to do. School pupils, doing all kinds of things with data that their older neighbours wouldn’t value just for the hell of it. Anyone watching this will learn a lot and probably have a laugh while doing it
- It will be a good thought experiment for everyone involved. In my experience, most people who work in or with local authorities don’t really understand the potential to do good things here.
I’ve never seen anyone try to pull together a good index of all of the relevant and interesting data that is available within one local authority area with the aim of giving school pupils something to work with, so over the next few weeks, I’ll be doing exactly that.
In this case, I’ll be looking at what data we can find on the area covered by the London Borough of Barnet (I live there, and the council have expressed an interest in this anyway) from a variety of different sources.
I’ll be writing a short article here on each of them outlining what they have and how it could be used, and hopefully sharing a few of them on the London Data Store blog. I should add here that a lot of what follows has resulted from conversations with friends, too numerous to credit here, but I was give a good initial steer by Emer Coleman at the London Data Store who has a strong local authority background.
I’d really welcome your feedback on any of this.
So, my first question; Are there any obvious omissions from this list of sources (below) that I’m going to go to for data that we can use with school pupils at a data-hack event?
There’s one further area that has been suggested to me. School pupils are likely to be very interested in Children’s issues anyway, and every local authority commissions some research that doesn’t fit into national frameworks. So I’m going to be having a conversation buy cialis with the Children’s Services office if I get the chance. In addition, any information I can get on schools will be particularly useful for the same reasons.
If my own children are anything to go by, I suspect that they will want to move quickly beyond the data that we provide them with and start creating their own information. There’s a huge wealth of information that children could provide about their local area – data that could be crowd-sourced with a bit of creative thinking.
We will need to ask them – or even encourage them to do the asking. This is, of course, the holy grail of democratic data-use – participation and co-design. But for now, I’d like to explore the limits of the data that adults have provided. At the moment, many adults don’t really understand that a huge variety of data-types + analysis can be very valuable.
We can walk now. Running comes later.