The DEFT153 Data Discovery Centre, based in the West Midlands, is an independent collaborative space for delivering transport and infrastructure projects using Agile Discovery. It works with shared data and uses storytelling to improve internal and external project communication. It is focused on delivering projects aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into supply chain organisations for sustainable development.
It opened its doors on 7th January 2019, at the Innovation Birmingham campus.
It builds on the work of the last 3 years bringing large civil engineering organisations, public sector, SME’s, academia and the media together in a collaborative space to help solve some of the regions toughest infrastructure and transport challenges through effective data sharing:
- 2018: shortlisted for the InnovateUK Women in Innovation Awards
- 2018: Digital Transport Exchange West Midlands, by Landor LINKS:
- 2018: BBC Transport Hack
- 2017: Data Discovery Centre at Traffex
- 2016: #brumdatahack
Through 2019, we are delivering challenges with our members and partners, in preparation for the launch of a full-scale, 3-year Data Discovery Centre demonstrator in the West Midlands from January 2020.
In April 2019 we showcased our first 3 months work as part of the live Data Discovery Centre at Traffex on 2-4 April 2019.
What is the Data Discovery Centre and how does it work?
It’s a physical space, at the Serendip incubator at iCentrum, on the Innovation Birmingham campus, which is staffed by a core team of experts in:
- civil engineering design and risk management
- transport data sharing
- Agile Delivery management
- public sector data sharing challenges
- resilience, risks and behaviours
- data standards, governance and security
- research and development in media, including data journalism
- open source and open data in planning and transport
- regional innovation
These expert SMEs work together under our Agile Delivery Methodology to solve complex challenges, with high levels of knowledge transfer to client teams.
What are the benefits for Data Discovery Centre members?
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 reduce project risks, congestion, and improve air quality and skills. Ultimately we are learning how to 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.
Participation evidences commitment to delivering innovation in existing 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.
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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