Open Data in Design and Civic Governance


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Lecture on Open Data and its relationship to Civic Governance and Sustainable Place-based Spatial Planning and Development given as part of Seminar on Design and Civic Governance in School of Architecture, University of Limerick on 10th October, 2011

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  • Today, I am going to talk about Data & Visualisation and why it is important; give an overview of how Fingal has used data & visualisation; give an overview of Open Data; share our experience with Fingal Open Data; give an overview of eGovernment and its role in civic governance
  • This course is exploring the potential of mapping to assist evidence-based decision making in planning and development processes This implies the need for relevant data and the visualisation of that data
  • Data is raw material – facts, observations, statistics Information is data with meaning or context attached Knowledge is information enhanced by people’s experience and used productively - “know-how” Ultimately we want to take raw data and use our experience to turn it into knowledge for the purpose of planning and design
  • To do this more effectively we use visualisation Visualisation is converting data into a picture That picture can be a graph, chart, symbolisation, map and you will often hear them referred to as Information Graphics or Infographics With advances and ubiquity of technology, Interactive Visualisations have become more common Examples include interactive mapping and motion graphics, incorporating spatial or temporal movement Visualisation is “Often the most effective way to describe, explore and summarise a set of numbers” - Tufte
  • Some background 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.
  • 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
  • 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
  • Cross-departmental initiative working on multi-layered ground-up approach to forward planning Permeability of areas regarding physical barriers and design problems Capturing data of physical movement network Using this data we can use network analyst to run different types of analysis.
  • This data allowed us to analyse the true walkability for residents to Services Straight line analysis indicates that the majority of homes fall within the 700 metre guideline Network analysis demonstrates that in fact 52% of homes are more than 700 metres from service centres Has also been used to plan identify optimum location for new services and to analyse the impact of opening or closing routes This type of scenario analysis demonstrates the use of data and visualisation for service planning and analysis
  • 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
  • What about Ireland? Up to November 2010 there were no Open Data websites in this country.
  • A number of people had been calling for Open Data. This Internet group was established by interested people to discuss possibilities for Open Data in Ireland.
  • was created by a collaboration of people from the Open Data Ireland discussion group and DERI research centre in NUI Galway takes data from Government websites, converts it to open formats and publishes it
  • The new Government has recognised the need for Open Data Both parties to Government have Open Government and Open Data policies The Programme for Government includes a number of objectives The EU eGovernment Action Plan also includes Open Data or PSI objectives
  • What about Fingal?
  • Fingal County Council launched the first Open Data website in the country in November 2010 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 is still the only Open Data website in this country It is available at The website, which you can see on screen, provides public access to source data from Council systems.
  • There are currently over 90 datasets organised into 12 categories Detailed information is provided about each dataset, including description, date published and available formats. 70 of these datasets are spatial – either by nature or aggregated to a spatial area (electoral division)
  • The site has a Featured Applications section to showcase uses that Fingal Open Data has been put to 4 of the 5 applications are map based
  • There is a blog where we post updates on Fingal Open Data and Open Data in Ireland
  • The data is subject to the Irish PSI Licence, drawn up by the Department of Finance, which allows for fair use of the data.
  • This video is available on
  • For Open Data to be of value, it must be put to some use
  • The datasets now available on Fingal Open Data enable many services to be developed such as those illustrated here. Four of these services have been developed to date
  • This is the first service that has been developed with Fingal Open Data. It was built as an added feature on the ‘Hit The Road’ website It displayed all polling Stations for the 2011 General Election and allowed a user to search for a Polling Station and get directions to that Polling Station using Public Transport It showed data from all 4 Dublin Authorities, but the data was scraped from the other 3 Local Authority websites.
  • This is an iPhone App that has been built with Fingal Bring Bank data It displays all Bring Banks It allows filtering on the type of recyclable material – glass, cans or textiles It displays information about the selected Bring Bank It also identifies the nearest Bring Bank to your location and will provide directions to Bring Banks
  • Local Planning Explorer Ireland was developed by DERI in NUI Galway in cooperation with Fingal County Council and Local Government Management Agency Fingal planning applications from Fingal Open Data Five Councils planning applications from a Microsoft Azure cloud service Remainder scraped using ScraperWiki
  • This Android App called Dublin Parking displays the location of disabled parking spaces in the Dublin Region The Fingal data came from Fingal Open Data The data for the rest of the Region was requested from and supplied by the other 3 Dublin Authorities
  • ESRI Ireland created this Traffic Camera Map on their platform Showcase the capability of their technology
  • Open Data plays an important role in Open Government
  • In the past we communicated using a broadcast model We will tell you what we want you to know
  • Social Media is a dialogue Everyone is equal – you and your audience They can make their voice heard in an equal manner
  • Whether we like it or not, people are talking about our organisations using Social Media. We should be part of that conversation.
  • Young people growing up today don’t know any other way – Social Media is part and parcel of how they communicate.
  • The full movie is 1 hour long and free to view online.
  • Government 2.0 or Open Government is the use of Social Media by Government to enable innovation in the way Government engages with citizens and delivers services
  • Communicate Government can use Social Media as another broadcast communication channel Here Fingal County Council’s is using Twitter to inform citizens of events and service outages
  • Share We can share information such as images, data and video Dublin City Libraries share video via YouTube
  • Dialogue Government can engage in two-way conversations with citizens Here is an example of South Dublin County Council responding to a citizen’s enquiry on Facebook about their water supply
  • Participate Social Media can be used to facilitate participation Kilkenny County Council use Blogs to enable citizens to provide feedback on proposed Plans for their area
  • 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
  • Collaborate 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
  • Fingal County Council provided an online submissions facility as part of the consultation process for our last Development Plan
  • 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 Puzzled by Policy project including DERI, NIU Galway is developing tools for policy profiling and for online debates
  • The Fifth province project involving DCU and the 4 Dublin Authorities will facilitate citizen engagement with policy options for the Dublin region
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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?
  • 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
  • Change people’s behaviour through fun Environment, Driving, etc.
  • New York City Digital Road Map Access to the Internet – Broadband, WiFi, Outreach & Eduation Open Government – Open Data, Open API, Visualisation tools, Apps Hub Engagement – Tools to enable collaborative Government, Social Media Industry – Support vibrant digital sector
  • There have been a number of developments in Open Data in Ireland over the summer
  • 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
  • Enterprise Ireland are facilitating a National Open Data Working Group Membership includes Fingal County Council, South Dublin County Council & LGCSB Chaired by Joe Horan Initiated in July, a workshop was held at the end of August to formulate ideas Aims to produce a white paper for Government on Open Data before end of year
  • What are the next steps for Open Data?
  • We need to have more Irish Open Data We want to encourage Local Authorities, Government Departments and Agencies to start releasing Open Data
  • We also need to examine whether usage restrictions can be removed from data already released CSO, EPA, Heritage, Marine, Finance, HSE There are also opportunities for Open Academic Data, Open Scientific Data, Open Bibliographic Data, etc And why not Open Business Data? Open Product Catalogues; Airline Flights and Fares; etc. Enel, Italy’s largest power company, has released Open Data Nike have employed Ward Cunningham, inventor of the Wiki, to work on Open Data
  • There is often a fear that the data will be misinterpreted or that the quality is too poor to release Use Metadata & release briefing notes to counter misinterpretation There may be a possibility to use it as an opportunity for improvement through crowdsourcing (UK bus stops) There can also be a reluctance to opening up the decision-making process We’ve always done it this way, the legislation doesn’t allow for Innovation requires that we question why we do the things we do and the way we do it Legislation needn’t be a barrier – so long as it doesn’t say that we can’t do it We in the public sector need to Let Go a bit
  • To conclude Data is a fundamental requirement for evidence-based decision making - in this case in the planning and design processes Visualisation and mapping allows us and the public to engage with and understand complex data and; to understand places Open Data is a platform for opening up the decision-making processes It enables Open Government which allows for increased citizen participation 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.
  • Open Data in Design and Civic Governance

    1. 1. Comhairle Contae Fhine Gall Fingal County Council Open Data in Design and Civic Governance Strategic Mapping Seminar - 10 th October, 2011 @ fingalopendata
    2. 2. Data & Visualisation
    3. 3. Data
    4. 4. Visualisation
    5. 5. Fingal
    6. 6. © OpenStreetMap contributors, CC-BY-SA - Fingal 3 rd largest Youngest Fast Growing
    7. 7. Rapid Population Growth
    8. 8. Development Plan GIS
    9. 9. Shared Anonymised Data
    10. 10. Profile of a Place
    11. 11. Greater Blanchardstown Initiative © OSI – Licence 2009/24/CCMA Fingal County Council
    12. 12. 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
    13. 13. What is Open Data?
    14. 14. Public Data
    15. 15. Open Formats
    16. 16. Machine Readable
    17. 17. Accessible
    18. 18. Why Open Data?
    19. 19. Transparency
    20. 20. Participation
    21. 21. Collaboration
    22. 22. Economic Opportunities
    23. 23. Open Data to date
    24. 24. U.S. :
    25. 25. E.U. : Reuse of Public Sector Information
    26. 26. Open Data Initiatives Worlwide
    27. 27. Ireland
    28. 28. Open Data Ireland
    29. 29.
    30. 30. Open Government Data Policy <ul><li>Ireland – Programme for Government </li></ul><ul><li>Publish Purchase Orders for more than €20,000 </li></ul><ul><li>Create a </li></ul><ul><li>European Union – eGovernment Action Plan </li></ul><ul><li>Committed to – </li></ul><ul><li>..making raw data and documents available for re-use in a wide variety of formats.. </li></ul><ul><li>..setting up PSI portals.. </li></ul>
    31. 31. Fingal
    32. 32. Open Data relating to Fingal http://
    33. 33. Over 90 datasets in 12 categories
    34. 34. Applications
    35. 35. Blog
    36. 36. Irish PSI Licence
    37. 37. <ul><li>Raw Data Now </li></ul><ul><li>A year of open data </li></ul>
    38. 38. Apps
    39. 39. Possible Fingal Apps Check bathing water quality for Fingal beaches Find Planning Applications submitted near you See the amount of waste recycled in Fingal Locate the place where you vote Find your nearest Bring Bank Locate disabled parking spaces in Fingal Find out where you can buy bin tags
    40. 40. Polling Stations Website
    41. 41. Bring Banks App
    42. 42. Planning Explorer
    43. 43. Disabled Parking App
    44. 44. Traffic Camera Map
    45. 45. Open Government
    47. 47. Broadcast
    48. 48. Dialogue
    49. 49. Social Media is where people talk … … are we part of the conversation?
    50. 50. Generation Z … … are ‘digital natives ’
    51. 52. Government 2.0
    52. 53. Communicate
    53. 54. Share
    54. 55. Dialogue
    55. 56. Participate
    56. 57. http:// / Collaborate
    57. 58. http:// /wiki/ Collaborate
    58. 59. Development Plan Submissions
    59. 60. Electronic Town Meeting
    60. 61. eParticipation
    61. 62. eParticipation
    62. 63. eParticipation
    63. 64. FixYourStreet
    64. 65. Miami 311
    65. 66. http:// /
    66. 67. OpenStreetMap
    67. 68. Data Quality Improvement
    68. 69. Planning 2.0
    69. 70. Walkability Crowdsourced
    70. 71. Walkability Crowdsourced
    71. 72. Hack The City, Science Gallery 2012
    72. 73. Copenhagen Wheel
    73. 74. Copenhagen Wheel
    74. 75. Changing Behaviour through Fun
    75. 76. New York City Digital Road Map
    76. 77. New Developments
    77. 78. Dublin Region Innovation Network
    78. 79. National Open Data Working Group
    79. 80. Next Steps
    80. 81. Linking Open Data cloud diagram, by Richard Cyganiak and Anja Jentzsch. We Need Irish Open Data
    81. 82. Remove Data Usage Restrictions
    82. 83. Let go …
    83. 84. Comhairle Contae Fhine Gall Fingal County Council Open Data for Design and Civic Governance
    84. 85. Reading <ul><li>Lathrop, Daniel and Ruma, Laurel. 2010. Open Government: Collaboration, Transparency and Participation in Practice . Sebastopol: O’Reilly. </li></ul><ul><li>Noveck, Beth Simone. 2009. Wiki Government: How Technology can make Government better, Democracy stronger, and Citizens more powerful . Washington, D.C.: Brookings. </li></ul><ul><li>Thomas, Christopher and Humenick-Sappington, Nancy. 2009. GIS for Decision Support and Public Policy Making . Redlands: ESRI Press. </li></ul><ul><li>Tufte, Edward. 2001. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Connecticut: Graphics Press LLC. </li></ul><ul><li>Yau, Nathan. 2011. Visualise This: The FlowingData Guide to Design, Visualization and Statistics . Indiananpolis: Wiley. </li></ul><ul><li>McCandless, David. 2009. Information is Beautiful . London: Collins. </li></ul><ul><li>Poikola, Antti, Kola, Petri and Hintikka, Kari A. 2010. Public Data: an introduction to opening information resources . Helsinki: Ministry of Transport and Communications. </li></ul><ul><li>Open Data Manual </li></ul><ul><li>Open Data Cookbook </li></ul><ul><li>Open Data Impacts: Exploring the impact of opening up Government Data </li></ul><ul><li>Scientific American, September 2011. Vol. 305. No. 3. A Brighter Future with Cities. </li></ul>
    85. 86. 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 http://