Building on the success of #brumdatahack in November 2016, and the Data Discovery Centre at Traffex in April 2017, we’re busy setting up the Data Discovery Centre in the Transport Systems Catapult / West Midlands Combined Authority Intelligent Mobility Incubator at the Innovation Birmingham campus.
It enables those working in/for transport in the West Midlands to access existing datasets, and work with a wide variety of data visualisation, analysis and exploration tools to help them make sense of data.
By discovering the deeper value of the data already in our organisations, and utilising reciprocal data sharing arrangements that make it worthwhile opening data up, we can solve the regions network resilience challenges in mutually beneficial ways.
Signposting datasets helps data publishers improve consistency of publication across multiple platforms, and provide more relevant context/metadata to describe their datasets.
The Data Discovery Centre is a physical space where people from large organisations, SME’s, volunteer sector, academia, public sector and journalists work collaboratively to solve the network resilience challenges facing the West Midlands.
Participation evidences commitment to delivering innovation in regional transport contracts, and improves digital, data and collaboration skills of staff. Mostly, its about equipping people with data, procurement and funding tools to overcome barriers and break down silos, rather than technology and clever stuff.
Since July 2017, we’ve been working with Innovation Birmingham and Transport for West Midlands to:
- identify SME’s who would benefit from the Innovation Engine programme, and help connect them into project partners Amey and Transport for West Midlands
- support SME’s applying to join the Intelligent Mobility Incubator
- define the priority challenges for transport to support the West Midlands network resilience strategy and the Mayors digital agenda
- make the relevant datasets available through the West Midlands Data Discovery Centre platform, in collaboration with OpenDataSoft
- identify the companies, projects, platforms, tools and people that will benefit from being part of the space and the Centre’s activities
- redefine how an incubator can operate so we can support large organisations taking part alongside SME’s, volunteer sector (OpenStreetMap), academia, and public sector bodies. Data sharing/reciprocity, security, Intellectual Property and procurement are areas we are addressing.
Project example: Using existing data to manage traffic congestion
The Innovation Engine’s Birmingham in Real Time project, managed by Birmingham City University is collaborating with Birmingham City Council to clean and visualise Birmingham’s Urban Traffic Monitoring Control (UTMC) data from existing loop detectors in the roads. Available openly, this dataset helps SME’s build predictive traffic and congestion services into their products, and design services that highways maintenance provider Amey can benefit from.
- New SME’s registering, and applying to join the Incubator
- Alliance with TravelSpirit, connecting their work with TfWM’s Chris Lane on the Openness Index, and the Mobility as a Service whimapp trial with National Express West Midlands beginning November 2017
- Landor LINKS’ Digital Transport Exchange coming to the region in July 2018 to showcase the local, open, innovation activities happening to support deliver of the network resilience strategy
- TfWM’s Stu Lester working with Urban Transport Group to share the open source, geodata work being done with Mapbox and OpenStreetMap
- Hosted first Birmingham in Real Time workshop to prioritise transport challenges and barriers to overcome to solve these
- Liaising/co-ordinating with the Mayor’s team and Digital Agenda
- liaising with Transport Systems Catapult and the Open Data Institute to evidence practical implementation in the region of the recommendations in the report to Government, March 2017 ‘The case for Government to Incentivise data sharing in the UK Intelligent Mobility Sector’
This is what we thought the Data Discovery Centre should do, when the idea was conceived early in 2017. It’s coming to life 😉
- Be affiliated with the Open Data Institute Birmingham Node, also based at Innovation Birmingham campus, providing high quality, independent and respected advice on applying open data principles to real life challenges
- Make hands on, exploratory and visual tools available for anyone to understand and gather deeper insights from existing datasets
- Support the collaboration, co-ordination and engagement exercise of the multi-agency partnership for Network Resilience
- Support the work of the Innovation Birmingham Ltd to encourage and support SME’s to relocate / have a presence in the region
- Support the work of the Innovation Engine project to connect industry partners (Amey and Transport for West Midlands) and their challenges with universities and SME’s who can solve them
- Support a positive collaboration for industry (business-to-business) and public (local and national) media and their audiences, so we can deliver better evidence-based, informed content in more engaging formats
- Organise events, workshops, hackathons, talks and seminars as needed to support specific challenges or problems
- Be recognised nationally as a regional centre of excellence, and be the prototype for a collaborative open data platform / exchange, data standards and protocols across the UK (HighwaysAPI).
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