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Open Data and Public Space


Lecture on Open Data and how it can support Government 2.0 and new approaches to the design of Public Space given to the Idea Transition Lab at the Science Gallery, Dublin on 30th January, 2012

Lecture on Open Data and how it can support Government 2.0 and new approaches to the design of Public Space given to the Idea Transition Lab at the Science Gallery, Dublin on 30th January, 2012

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  • Today, I am going to talk about Open Data and why we should consider it; give an overview of Open Data in Ireland; share our experience with Fingal Open Data and the Apps4Fingal competition give an overview of new approaches to planning in Fingal look at examples of Open Government & crowdsoucing give some examples of urban experiments from around the world
  • So, we have seen the importance of data in the form of Development Plan data; demographic and administrative data in the Fingal Data Hub; physical infrastructure and services data in Greater Blanchardstown Initiative Last summer, Fingal County Council became aware of the Open Data movement Open Data is …
  • Public data Which is not subject to data protection or other limitations
  • Open Formats Available in non-proprietary formats e.g. CSV, XML, KML, RDF, open APIs
  • Machine Readable In a format that computers can process
  • Accessible Available to the widest range of people for the widest range of uses
  • Why would we publish Open Data?
  • Transparency To Open up Government and enable the Public to see the underlying information. What is the actual evidence-based reality as opposed to the perceived reality
  • Participation To increase citizen engagement with Government. If Government and Citizens are to cooperate, then Government can’t be the only ones with the information
  • Collaboration In addition to Citizen-Government collaboration outlined earlier, also - To enable the combination of data from different public sector agencies To enable other sectors to collaborate with Government.
  • Economic Opportunities Public sector data can be used as the basis for online services, mobile applications, analytics, etc.
  • Where did Open Data originate?
  • In the United States, Barak Obama promised Open Government during his election campaign. This website, was created in 2009 to share US Government data. This is the seen as the main catalyst that has driven the Open Data movement
  • In fact, the EU were ahead of the game The 2003 EU Reuse of Public Sector Information Directive was designed to allow European companies to exploit the potential of Public Sector Data and to contribute to economic growth and job creation. In a 2009 report, the EU cited the value of EU Public sector data at an estimated €27B. However, the PSI directive was primarily about requesting or ‘pulling’ data from Government rather than the publishing or ‘push’ model of Open Data
  • In the two and a half years since the launch of, Open Data sites have sprung up around the world, mainly in Canada, USA, Europe, Australia and New Zealand 2010 – UK Government, London, United Nations, World Bank
  • Fingal Open Data evolved from the principles of the Fingal Data Hub and the Open Data movement. In Summer 2010 we were preparing a report with data about all Local Authorities which was difficult to find and only available in PDF We discovered the Open Data movement and felt that this was a better way We decided to take the initiative with the backing of the County Manager and Fingal Open Data was born It was the first Open Data website in this country, launched on 16th November 2010 – a year next Wednesday It is available at The website, which you can see on screen, provides public access to source data from Council systems. In that year we have had 4,700 unique visitors
  • The Dublinked initiative was announced on 27 th June A collaboration between Dublin City, Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown, Fingal & South Dublin County Councils and NUI Maynooth Platform provided by IBM A Network for Sharing Data to facilitate innovation in the urban environment through collaboration between private, public and research partners with the Dublin city region as a proving ground Invitations to participate are currently open Event on 18th October to introduce the Network as part of Innovation Dublin month
  • For Open Data to be of value, it must be put to some use
  • In order to encourage the reuse of data published on Fingal Open Data and Dublinked, Fingal County Council organised the Apps4Fingal competition The competition ran from 9 th November 2011 to 9 th January 2012 There is a prize fund of €11,000 thanks to the generosity of our sponsors
  • 23 Apps were submitted
  • 36 ideas were submitted
  • A number of the Apps provided means of finding information about and locations of Services & Facilities
  • Three of the Apps provided means of planning journeys, routes and itineraries
  • Two of the Apps selected required data from across multiple datasets
  • Three of the Apps were game based
  • And the remaining five apps were for specific uses
  • What about Fingal?
  • The Fingal area covers North County Dublin – north of the Liffey and the M50 including Blanchardstown, Howth, Swords, Balbriggan and Dublin Airport It is the 3 rd largest Local Authority area by population as per preliminary Census 2011 figures It is the youngest area in the country It was fastest growing from 2002 – 2006 (22%) and 3 rd fastest growing from 2006 – 2011 (14%)
  • To cope with our phenomenal growth we made extensive use of data & visualisation for service planning.
  • The Fingal Data Hub was created by the Fingal Development Board in 2009. It was a collaboration between 9 partner agencies. It was designed for sharing of anonymised data between partner agencies, to enable interagency cooperation and service planning.
  • Gives us the ability to profile a place Population, Age, Social Class, Deprivation, Unemployment, Social Housing, School goers To plan a place you must know a place
  • Last 3 Development Plans produced with GIS Started using in 1997 – 1999, 2006 & 2011 Plans 2006 Plan live in Council Chamber – interactive visualisation (inc. Aerial Photography) eliminated interpretation of data – concentrate on decision-making 2011 Plan – Online Submissions; mapping of submissions & motions A large quantity of spatial data to make up the Development Plan
  • Fingal County Council provided an online submissions facility as part of the consultation process for our last Development Plan
  • Fingal County Council provided an online submissions facility as part of the consultation process for our last Development Plan
  • Fingal County Council provided an online submissions facility as part of the consultation process for our last Development Plan
  • Greater Blanchardstown Initiative – a bottom-up approach to Urban Planning. What is the lived experience for citizens? How readily can citizens access local services? What is the walkability or permeability of an area? When making decisions to locate services and facilities how can we select the optimum location?
  • Then we went out and captured the low difficulty desire lines – The improvised routes that people take The routes through semi-enclosed areas
  • You can see the tracks across this open space that indicate informal routes taken by people We captured them like this
  • We also captured high-difficulty desire lines Improvised routes with a level of difficulty Climbing walls/fences Fitting through railings Crossing ditches/streams
  • This is a photo of one of these high-difficulty desire lines People climb this wall, using a shopping trolley as a form of improvised stile Another indicator is capping missing from the top of walls – dislodged by repeated climbing of the wall
  • We then added lanes and alleys
  • Like these
  • And sealed public rights of way Places where a route existed but had been blocked off
  • Where a fence has been erected
  • This gave us a complete route network for the area giving all the possible means by which the public move
  • With our network in place we can now carry out walkability or permeability analysis This map indicates the local and regional services areas in Blanchardstown (locations of shops, doctors, etc.)
  • We use a walkability measure of 700m. When calculated by a straight line method (as the crow flies) this indicated that the majority of the households were within a 700m catchment of services
  • However, people don’t walk as the crow flies – they need to use roads and paths When the calculation is run across the route network, the catchment area shrinks dramatically
  • When we run an analysis of households against the newly calculated catchment area, we find that 52% of households fall outside a 700m permeability catchment – meaning that they are more likely to use a car rather than walk to their service centres
  • This is an example of the kind of interventions that people make to overcome problems they encounter with permeability In this case signs used to advertise housing are put to use to cross a ditch This would have started out as a small gap in the hedgerow which grew larger as more people used this shortcut
  • This is a map indicating an informal route that people were taking (the long straight yellow line) Beside it is a proposed solution to provide a formal alternative
  • This photo shows the desire line The vegetation has been worn away by people walking to this wall and fence which they then climb over Unfortunately, it was not possible to implement the formal alternative
  • When we revisited the area, we discovered that someone had actually cut away the bars in the fence to make it easier to take this shortcut
  • Collaborate Ultimately, Government 2.0 is about enabling a new approach to citizens and Government working together in a collaborative manner on matters of mutual concern Ideally, collaboration should be capable of being initiated by either Government or Citizen This is an example from North Sydney Council, Australia in which citizens can participate in determining budget priorities The citizen can choose to increase, decrease or not alter spending under the budget headings Their selections are totalled interactively so that they can see whether they are over or under budget and if over budget what the implications are for rates Citizens inputs are compiled into a report which feeds into the Councils decision-making process
  • This example is from Melbourne, Australia Here the draft City Development Plan is published as a Wiki and the public can directly edit the Plan There is also a discussion page relating to each section of the plan where suggestions can be outlined or changes justified All versions are retained to enable comparison between versions of the Plan Once the public consultation phase is complete, the Council deliberates on the contributions to organise, refine and incorporate ideas in the most practical way
  • The Parterre Project which includes participants from Northern Ireland, is working on a similar tool for participatory spatial planning It has also developed a toolset for Electronic Town Meetings
  • The SOWIT project involving researchers from UCC, TCD, Kilkenny County Council in partnership with Fingal County Council will provide an online environment for citizen discussions and citizen participation in consultations
  • What about Fingal?
  • Open Data is nothing new in the G.I.S. world One of the best examples of Open Data is OpenStreetMap This is collaborative spatial data made openly available
  • U.K. Department of Transport made NAPTAN bus stop dataset available to OpenStreetMap OpenStreetMap volunteers check, edit and verify the data via the NOVAM viewer Improved data quality of public dataset Potential for the same approach to be used here with Government datasets
  • FixYourStreet is an open transparent tool for reporting problems to Local Government It also has an Open Data dimension, as the data is exposed for developers to write programs that comsume the data behind the site – location, details and resolution of Reported issues
  • These programs could be Apps, Visualisations, alternative interfaces, etc HeyGov! is an example of the type of development that could be done with FixYourStreet data
  • The FixYourStreet approach has been taken a step further As well as allowing people to let ue know where there are problems, why not let them suggest where servcies should be located Bike Racks website evolved from New York City looking at how it could maximise the value of its CRM investment The website enables citizens to identify a location where they believe bike racks should be provided, to include a photo of the location and to outline their reasons for the suggested location Other citizens can vote on the suggestions Citizens can also check whether their suggested location meets Bike Rack Location Guidelines to see racks provided sooner
  • Walkonomics website Rates the walkability of streets based on data for each street relating to street width, crime, gradients and traffic levels
  • In addition, members of the public can rate the streets to improve the accuracy of the rating
  • Hack The City is a Science Gallery exhibition that will run next year It will explore and implement urban experiments, hacks and tweaks Brainstorm included themes of “Urban Experiments”, “Future of the City”, “Playing with Data”, “Art Science Projects” Hack Your City website gives a flavour of the possibilities
  • Copenhagen Wheel Rear bicycle wheel which attaches to normal bikes Captures energy when cycling and provides power when needed Includes environmental sensors Use smartphone to lock and unlock bike and change gears
  • Map of pollution levels captured from Copenhagen Wheel bikes
  • Using technology to change the way that cities and citizens interact 19 projects showcased
  • Engaging Cities tracks how Social Media technologies (Web 2.0) will impact our cities, especially the urban planning process What will “Planning 2.0” look like, and how will it be used to create more livable places?
  • Change people’s behaviour through fun Environment, Driving, etc.
  • To conclude Data is a fundamental requirement for evidence-based decision making - in this case in the planning and design processes Open Data is a platform for opening up the decision-making processes It enables Open Government which allows for increased citizen participation Open Data and technology developments including Social Media and the proliferation of location aware mobile devices enable new approaches to civic governance and the design of public space Crowdsourcing and urban experiments provide opportunities for shared approaches to design of public space As I mentioned earlier, Fingal Open Data is available at And you can also follow us on Twitter at fingalopendata
  • In line with the theme, this presentation is licenced for sharing under a Creative Commons licence It is available for viewing and downloading on slideshare Thank you.


  • 1. Idea Transition Lab, Science Gallery 30th January, 2012 Open Data and Public Space @ fingalopendata
  • 2. What is Open Data?
  • 3. Public Data
  • 4. Open Formats
  • 5. Machine Readable
  • 6. Accessible
  • 7. Why Open Data?
  • 8. Transparency
  • 9. Participation
  • 10. Collaboration
  • 11. Economic Opportunities
  • 12. Open Data to date
  • 13. U.S. :
  • 14. E.U. : Reuse of Public Sector Information
  • 15. Open Data Initiatives Worlwide
  • 16. Fingal Open Data – 119 datasets
  • 17. Dublinked – 203 datasets
  • 18. Apps
  • 19. apps 4 fingal C O M P E T I T I O N 9 th November, 2011 – 9 th January, 2012 @fingalopendata #Apps4Fingal
  • 20. apps 4 fingal
  • 21. apps 4 fingal
  • 22. Service Location/Information Apps A Day Out in Fingal Dublin Parking Fingal Access Database Fingal Fact Finder Fingal Parking Fingal Resources Fingal Traffic View Fingal Tourism Visit Fingal
  • 23. Planner Apps Fingal Day Tripper Hit The Road : Fingal Walk on the Bright Side
  • 24. Aggregator Apps Fingal Fact Finder Whatz n the Hood
  • 25. Game-Based Apps Castle Master Discover Fingal Explore Fingal
  • 26. Other Apps Fingal GeoWand My Club Diary Taxi Locator Urban Rural
  • 27. Fingal
  • 28. © OpenStreetMap contributors, CC-BY-SA - Fingal 3 rd largest Youngest Fast Growing
  • 29. Rapid Population Growth
  • 30. Shared Anonymised Data
  • 31. Profile of a Place
  • 32. Development Plan
  • 33. Development Plan Submissions
  • 34. Development Plan Submissions
  • 35. Development Plan Submissions
  • 36. Greater Blanchardstown Initiative © OSI – Licence 2009/24/CCMA Fingal County Council
  • 37. Greater Blanchardstown Initiative © OSI – Licence 2009/24/CCMA Fingal County Council
  • 38. Greater Blanchardstown Initiative © OSI – Licence 2009/24/CCMA Fingal County Council
  • 39. Greater Blanchardstown Initiative © OSI – Licence 2009/24/CCMA Fingal County Council
  • 40. Greater Blanchardstown Initiative © OSI – Licence 2009/24/CCMA Fingal County Council
  • 41. Greater Blanchardstown Initiative © OSI – Licence 2009/24/CCMA Fingal County Council
  • 42. Greater Blanchardstown Initiative © OSI – Licence 2009/24/CCMA Fingal County Council
  • 43. Greater Blanchardstown Initiative © OSI – Licence 2009/24/CCMA Fingal County Council
  • 44. Greater Blanchardstown Initiative © OSI – Licence 2009/24/CCMA Fingal County Council
  • 45. Greater Blanchardstown Initiative © OSI – Licence 2009/24/CCMA Fingal County Council
  • 46. Walkability Analysis © OSI – Licence 2009/24/CCMA Fingal County Council
  • 47. Walkability Analysis © OSI – Licence 2009/24/CCMA Fingal County Council
  • 48. Blanchardstown Urban Structure Permeability Housecount Within Permeability: 17,051 (48%) Housecount Outside Permeability: 18,220 (52%) Walkability Analysis © OSI – Licence 2009/24/CCMA Fingal County Council
  • 49. Blanchardstown Urban Structure Permeability Housecount Within Permeability: 17,051 (48%) Housecount Outside Permeability: 18,220 (52%) Walkability Analysis © OSI – Licence 2009/24/CCMA Fingal County Council
  • 50. Urban Hacking
  • 51. Desire Line & Proposed Solution
  • 52. Desire Line
  • 53. Urban Hacking!
  • 54. Participation
  • 55. Budgets
  • 56. Development Plans
  • 57. Electronic Town Meeting
  • 58. Social Media for Citizen Participation
  • 59. CrowdSourcing
  • 60. OpenStreetMap
  • 61. Data Quality Improvement
  • 62. FixYourStreet
  • 63. Miami 311
  • 64.
  • 65. Walkability Crowdsourced
  • 66. Walkability Crowdsourced
  • 67. Urban Experiments
  • 68. Hack The City, Science Gallery 2012
  • 69. Copenhagen Wheel
  • 70. Copenhagen Wheel
  • 71. OpenPlans
  • 72. Engaging Cities
  • 73. Changing Behaviour through Fun
  • 74. CHALLENGE Crowdsource - collecting Open Data - suggesting new services
  • 75. CHALLENGE Use Open Data to create innovative Apps or Services for the urban environment
  • 76. Open Data and Public Space
  • 77. References
    • Lathrop, Daniel and Ruma, Laurel. 2010. Open Government: Collaboration, Transparency and Participation in Practice . Sebastopol: O’Reilly.
    • Noveck, Beth Simone. 2009. Wiki Government: How Technology can make Government better, Democracy stronger, and Citizens more powerful . Washington, D.C.: Brookings.
    • Poikola, Antti, Kola, Petri and Hintikka, Kari A. 2010. Public Data: an introduction to opening information resources . Helsinki: Ministry of Transport and Communications.
    • Open Data Manual
    • Open Data Cookbook
    • Open Data Impacts: Exploring the impact of opening up Government Data
    • Roadmap for the Digital City
    • Scientific American, September 2011. Vol. 305. No. 3. A Brighter Future with Cities.
  • 78. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License Use of any Fingal County Council or Fingal Development Board logos and brands are not covered by this license. Pictures as marked used under Creative Commons license. If you believe any content is infringing copyright, please contact us via
  • 79.