Open Data and the Leeds Data Mill at C4DI


You can learn some really interesting things from data. And there is a lot of out there, freely available to anyone with a theory to test or an idea for an app. Mark Barrett and Simon Zimmerman work at Hebe Works where they are trying to make more data available and tell interesting and useful stories from what is already visible.

Yesterday they came over to C4DI to talk about what they are doing and tell us all about Leeds Data Mill.  Mark took to the stage and told us all about the challenges of making data available. He is also the chap behind the GP Ratings App for iPhone, a wonderful program that leverages thousands of patient ratings and uses them to show you how good the doctors are in your area. 

This was a very thought provoking talk with an eye on the future. Mark and Simon reckon that open data is a great way to create completely novel applications, as well as giving people much greater insight into how the services around them actually tick. 

I headed over to the Data Mill and had a look round. There are some interesting data sets that you can just download, or hit with ready made Python, Ruby or JavaScript templates. I happened upon one that give the incidence of parking fines in the city and how many miscreants have paid up. And I started wondering if people who get fined in the morning are better payers, or worse, and when during the day they take the most fines. And I was hooked. Not written the program yet, but there is a good chance I will. And there are over 150 (and growing) data sources to go with that one.

C4DI are working with the Hull City Plan to bring this kind of open data to us. I'm really looking forward to seeing it all come together.