Week notes – 2015 week 17

These week notes cover the period Monday 20 April to Sunday 26 April 2015

  1. Caught up with data scientist in Singapore who is working on Bank of England data visualisation competition
    1. Thinking about putting a plan together for similar government visualisation project
  2. Updated @new_blog_posts automation
  3. Worked on data.gov.uk/data-request
    1. Mainly focused on Ministry of Justice (MOJ) as they have the highest number of requests
    2. Next week will look at
      1. Home Office
      2. Ministry of Defence
      3. Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS)
    3. received some good feedback
  4. Band A catchup with @AntonioAcunaR and @JemmaVenables (@BuckleyOllie and @kittyvonbertele were away)
    1. Main topics were succession planning for team members who plan to move on
    2. and focusing on quantifying user needs for everything we do
  5. Discussed data.gov.uk dashboard with @danking82 and @1jh
  6. Looked at directors (executive and non-executive) declarations of directorships/trusteeships/etc and also financial investments over an arbitrary amount (£20,000 up to 2013-14)
  7. Had 1-2-1s with @lizetta and @sukiboora, focusing on
    1. data.gov.uk/data-request
    2. transparency team “things we want to do” in the next Parliament
  8. Went to the departments of business, innovation and skills (BIS) show & tell of their digital skills pilot study with LinkedIn
  9. Met with transparency practitioners in the MOJ and discussed:
    1. dashboard for MOJ on data.gov.uk + link to Excel spreadsheet – does this work?
    2. advice on anonymisation, even if its just “who to go to” (preferably free advice)
      1. much of MOJ’s data is personal, so this needs to be solid
    3. Sector Panels – need to make them more valuable to internal audience
      1. Having external people you can trust is useful – @JeniT was mentioned
  10. Met with DCMS transparency practitioner
    1. Discussed issues with data.gov.uk duplicate or ambiguous publisher names
    2. Might speak about the value of #opendata at next museum forum
  11. Went to #cmgrLDN meet-up to learn about setting and measuring community metrics
  12. ‘Digital Yurt’ with @MGreenhalgh523, @PollyGannaway and @thomtownsend
    1. Brainstormed some things to present to @_OpenP > https://flic.kr/s/aHskax9S1M
  13. Learnt how to do lab based user research using ukgovcamp.com as a test case
    1. used the Government Digital Service (GDS) user research studio
    2. valuable learning for Transparency Election briefing submission on next steps for data.gov.uk
  14. Photography club with @JanetHughes and @annkempster from GDS > https://flic.kr/s/aHsk9RWDoH
  15. GDS ‘Griffins’ softball team battling practice

Tweeted this blog post at 17:56 on 25 April 2015


Keeping up with the #GOVUK blogs

There are many fascinating things to read on blog.gov.uk. However there isn’t a blogroll (a list of all the blogs) available in Outline Processor Markup Language (OPML) format. OPML files can be imported to your favourite blog reader. This saves you time and effort.

So one weekend I hacked together:

I used this to inform the Service Manager community of interesting things. I continue to use it for my own learning and development. Sometimes I share things I see with a wider audience.

Keeping this service updated is currently a manual process. Every Monday morning I:

Enjoy 🙂

Summer working holidays

I’m not one for sitting still, especially on a beach in the baking sun. So this Summer I’ve decided to do something different; a working holiday.

From Monday 5th to Friday 9th August I’ll be out and about on me travels.  I want to visit as many different local and central government organisations, suppliers and interested parties as possible.  The idea is to learn what they do and how they do it.

I’ve managed to bag the Department of Communities and Local Government for Tuesday 6th and some time with the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

Also kindly been offered time by Ben Procter from Herefordshire Council,  Andy Parkhouse from Delib and Noel Hatch at Kent County Council.  Be good to get out of London 🙂

Would love to get a big supplier into the mix as well.

My civil servant Twitter rules

These 5 rules apply to tweeting about my employer’s organisational structure, procedures, communications and decisions.

X = news organisations, bad hackers, disgruntled followers, etc.

Y = the United Kingdom, the government digital service or myself

Z = colleagues, other departments or suppliers

  1. Don’t tweet when your judgment is impaired
  2. What could X do against Y with my tweet?
  3. Could my tweet impact relations with Z?
  4. If not sure, don’t tweet, ask boss
  5. Boss not available?  Don’t tweet.

I hope this post helps fellow civil and public servants.  For further reading, check out social media guidance for civil servants and the civil service code.

I also strongly recommend this bundle of links from @pubstrat, whose advice started me thinking about this checklist. 

GDS + data.gov.uk = sense?

Had an interesting conversation with a highly experienced and knowledgeable Government employee recently.

After flirting around several fascinating topics, we eventually discussed open data and its place in national and local Government.

From the sound of it, the current Government is going to bail on the whole “schmazel” of open data.

I hope that: –

a) I got the wrong end of the stick

b) The individual is just downtrodden by their experience with open data

c) They were just wrong.

My friend had an idea; if the Government Digital Service (GDS) is perceived to be doing good stuff, why not roll data.gov.uk under GDS’s wing and give open data a potential shot in the arm?

I liked this idea.  Not because I’m (hopefully) about to start working for GDS, but I love open data and want it to grow, growing our economy in the process.

data.gov.uk has received some negative press recently: –

Four out of five people who visit the data.gov.uk website leave it immediately without accessing links to data, says the parliamentary watchdog, and there are big gaps in information about adult social care and other parts of the public sector, so that people cannot use it to make informed choices.

Read the full article at http://www.guardian.co.uk/public-leaders-network/2012/aug/01/government-transparency-public-accounts-committee

My own experience of contacting data.gov.uk (as someone who is building the open data plan for the largest unitary authority in Europe) has been inconsistent.  Yes, they were launching an improved version of their website at the time, but 3 weeks to reply to an email?  That’s rather poor in my book.

So, what am I saying here?  Well, if its true that the Government will “go South” on open data, then I agree; pick data.gov.uk and GDS up, and squeeze them together into one small powerful ball of hot, glowing power.

What do you think, please?