The Programmable City submitted the following to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform public consultation on the Open Data Licence for the Government of Ireland.
This morning Rob Kitchin presented a keynote talk at the New Techniques and Technologies for Statistics conference in Brussels. The presentation examined the potential impact of the unfolding data revolution – big data, open and linked data, data infrastructures, and new data analytics – on the production of official statistics and the work of national statistical institutions. The slides that accompanied the talk are below.
Queens University Belfast, 21-24 May 2015.
Calculated Spaces: small data, big data, open data and data infrastructures
The promise of big and open data and data infrastructures is for greater evidence based decision making, informed policy, and efficient management. As mobile devices, wearables, UAVs/Drones, webcams, and sensors become more accessible and distributed in terms of cost, size and useability, it is assumed, that the ‘neutral facts’ derived from these ‘democratized technologies’ will lead to the production of objective and politically neutral models of places and spaces. Also, combining these data with those collected by GPS, satellite and radar with transaction (i.e. loyalty & swipe cards) and social media data and with framework data such as street networks or political boundaries, will lead to the perfect calculated model of the world. Finally, there is the dream of cloud storage liberating the data from geography with ‘free’ and ‘open’ platforms yet geo-fencing persists.
We hope submissions will include critically reflections on some of the following: the ‘politically neutral’ production of objective space, technological determinism, data driven managerialism, the social shaping effects of technology and data, technocratic governance, and data assemblages (Kitchin 2014). Also, on the implications of algorithmic, mathematic and geometric modelling of spaces and places, social physics, the ontologies of ontologies (Hacking 2012), the politics of portals and 3rd party platforms and the geopolitics of data storage and global infrastructures. Also how do small, data, and open data and data infrastructures transduce spaces and places (Kitchin, 2014, Dalton and Thatcher 2014, Kitchin and Lauriault 2014). The objective of this session is therefore to interrogate the epistemological and ontological issues raised by data and infrastructures and to discuss their social, ethical, legal and political implications.
We welcome papers that explore the above and some of the following questions:
- Has the proliferation of data and related infrastructures led to more technocratic forms of governance, managerialism and predictive governance?
- Have VGI, counter mapping, citizen science and participatory mapping been critically reflexive about the technologies used to collect the data they produce? Are these truly democratic and objective processes?
- While we become better at counting, classifying, sharing, archiving and visualizing, and are offered platforms to do so what kind of spaces and places are we creating?
- How to balance the instrumental use of data collection technologies, which inform science while also normalize sousveillance, dataveillance, and surveillance?
- How might data and their related data collection technologies contribute to sustainability, resilience and planning?
- Is it possible to balance commercialization, public good, and ethics with big data, open data and data infrastructures?
Potential contributors should liaise with the session organiser prior to submission of their abstract on the conference website. Contact email: Tracey.Lauriault@NUIM.ie
The CIG is organized by The Geographical Society of Ireland and the School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology, and will be held at Queens University Belfast are delighted to host the 47th Conference of Irish Geographers that will take place 21-24 May 2015.
All sessions are listed in this PDF Document:
We are happy to share Working Paper 6 of the Programmable City Project. This paper is related to a paper presented at the Internet Politics & Policy Conference,University of Oxford in September. Our objective was to pool grounded knowledge from our respective disciplines of geography and computer science, our public service experience at the EPA in Ireland and Natural Resources Canada, our mutual recognition that part of open data and open access is the production of data outside of the public service and that users can contribute excellent information, and more so that public engagement in evidence based decision making makes us all smarter. We hope this working paper will be useful to the public sector in Ireland and Canada, as we think this could be a mechanism by which citizens can contribute to public policy in collaboration with government while also enabling government to continue to be accountable and the purveyor of reliable, accurate and authentic knowledge.
The full paper can be downloaded from the Social Science Research Network (SSRN).
Tracey P. Lauriault, Programmable City Project, National University of Ireland Maynooth
Peter Mooney, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Computer Science National University of Ireland Maynooth
In this paper we examine three geographic crowdsourcing models, namely: volunteered geographic information (VGI), citizen science (CS) and participatory mapping (PM) (Goodchild, 2007; Audubon Society, 1900; and Peluso, 1995). We argue that these geographic knowledge producing practices can be adopted by governments to keep databases up to date (Budhathoki et al., 2008), to gain insight about natural resources (Conrad and Hilchey, 2011), to better understand the socio-economy of the people it governs (Johnston and Sieber, 2013) and as a form of data-based public engagement. The paper will be useful to governments and public agencies considering using geographic crowdsourcing in the future. We begin by defining VGI, CS, PM and crowdsourcing. Two typologies are then offered as methods to conceptualize these practices and the Kitchin (2014) data assemblage framework is proposed as a method by which state actors can critically examine their data infrastructures. A selection of exemplary VGI, CS and PM from Canada and the Republic of Ireland are discussed and the paper concludes with some high level recommendations for administrations considering a geographic approach to crowdsourcing.
Keywords: Volunteered Geographic Information, VGI, Citizen Science, Participatory Mapping, Crowdsourcing, Open Data, Public Engagement, Government Administration
Republic of Ireland’s Open Data Strategy: Observations and Recommendations
Tracey P. Lauriault, Programmable City Project, NIRSA, National University of Ireland Maynooth, County Kildare, Republic of Ireland
The Programmable City Working Paper 3 (Complete Working Paper is available here)
Working Paper 3 of the Programmable City Project is a response to the Republic of Ireland’s Department of Public Expenditures and Reform (DPER) Open Data launch and the reports produced by Insight at the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG), who were awarded the contract from a government call for tender (CfT). The Working Paper provides background context to the open data plan and critically considers governance; infrastructure; records management as well as information management and information technology (IM/IT); Legal, policy and ethical frameworks; public engagement; data curation; data dissemination and publication, and evaluation. The Paper proposes reconceptualizing open data as a function of government record keeping, information management, shared services and national spatial data infrastructures as opposed to a standalone program. By doing so, it is suggested, open data simply becomes a good governance strategy and by integrating it into broader government administration information management provides it with sustainability, especially if it becomes a normalized data dissemination strategy and a public engagement mechanism. The Working Paper also includes a number of recommendations for consideration in addition to or to complement those provided by Insight. Recommendations are as follows:
1. Good Governance
- Open data should be a natural extension of good governance strategies and not stand alone programs.
- Open data should be a key component of government information management (IM), record management, IT and national spatial data infrastructures (NSDI).
- Open data should be part of a coordinated data and information dissemination strategy, which should also include publicly funded research data, scientific data, data from the humanities, and other qualitative data.
- Focus on the production and maintenance of good quality public sector, administration, research, geospatial and scientific datasets and less on commercialization, innovation and ‘high value’ datasets.
- Focus on data that have societal and environmental value, and also on core/framework datasets upon which other datasets can be integrated into.
2. Open Data, Records & Information Management and Thinking more Critically about Data
- Consider open Data as a good governance strategy and as part of data and information management.
- Integrate Open Data into IM/IT, Shared Services and integrate with the NSDI
- Data infrastructures are critically important, Open Data should be considered with cloud computing, high speed internet, and hardware and software.
- Open datasets should be thought of as government records (data & information) and should be managed accordingly.
- Adopt a life-cycle and data curation approach to the management, preservation and dissemination of Open Data datasets.
- Implement the NSDI and consider the CGDI principles for the NSDI and for Open Data in Ireland.
- Critically reflect on data more broadly and not just as objects at the end of an information pipeline.
- Consider evaluating the contents of an open data portal to see if these can be used to construct indicators of well-being and quality of life.
3. The DPER / Insight Roadmap and the Best Practices Handbook
- Develop an open data public interest mandate, vision and mission, and clear objectives against which performance can be evaluated.
- Reconsider the organizational structure as per the schematic in Figure 5.
- Reconsider appointments on the SIG to be expertise and skills based and less political, and that appointments be made by peers.
- Create an open data institutional entity that will operationalize the work of the ODB, SIG and Working groups and integrate these with other government programs.
- Open data officers should be appointed in all government offices
- Create temporary expert working groups to develop and implement infrastructure wide practices (see figure 5).
3.2. Legal, Policy and Ethical Framework
- Develop a data and information legal and policy framework with open data as a component of it.
- Conduct an inventory of collaborative and data sharing instruments (e.g., MOU, procurement contracts, data sharing agreements, etc.).
- Assess the outputs of the Intellectual Property Activity in Ireland Based on Existing Data report resulting from the RfT in the spring of 2014.
- Conduct an inventory of all laws, regulation, policies and directives that would govern how data are collected and disseminated.
- Develop a set of explicit legal, policy and ethical guidelines for the management of public sector data and open data based on laws, regulation, directives, policies and practices in Ireland for public sector officials.
- Include these guidelines as part of the data dissemination decision-making tree (Figure 6).
3.3. Public Engagement
- Engage with stakeholders on developing the mission, vision and mandate for the Open Data strategy.
- Engage with stakeholders to shape how an Open Data roadmap and strategy could look.
- Engage with, study, build upon and harmonize the Open Data strategy with existing public sector data dissemination programs.
- Review and assess existing technologically mediated engagement tools and social media applications in other jurisdictions.
- Public sector officials and departments should develop processes and be receptive to evidence based public input into public policy and planning, and learn to solicit feedback from the public in a useful and educated way.
- Consider crowdsourcing, VGI and citizen science as a public engagement strategy.
4. Data Curation or a Data Audit?
- Adopt a digital data curation and life-cycle approach to the management of data and conduct the data audit accordingly.
- Adopt the Data Audit Framework.
- Ensure that additional elements are added into the data audit (e.g. geocoded, scale, time).
- The high value approach to the selection of data should be reconsidered, and an evaluation of what current data ‘clients’ value, should be considered.
- Recognize the limitations of a machine only audit, and broaden search criteria to include all data not just those in open formats and under an open licence.
- Conduct a full inventory of portals and catalogues from all sectors in Ireland and integrate their metadata to ensure cross disciplinary discoverability.
- Publish the results of the data audit.
5. Data Dissemination and Publication
- It is highly recommended that DPER consider adopting the well established data curation life cycle management approach similar to the one developed by the Digital Curation Centre, and consider taking a data curatorial approach in lieu of a data audit.
- Adopt the Data Audit Framework for data curation as well as those developed by the Digital Curation Centre and consider developing an Information Management Directive which incorporates the ideals of Open Data, preservation and archives.
- Create a decision making tree to help public officials determine what can and cannot be published. Figure 6 is an example to guide decisions on the management and dissemination of sensitive data.
- The outcomes of the decision derived from the application of the open data publication decision making tree would then form the basis for the decision supporting why some datasets are not published by default.
- A data management and dissemination WG should be created along with those in Figure 5, and invite experts from the Digital Repository of Ireland, library and archives and information studies, geospatial community to help develop a comprehensive access, dissemination, data management and preservation plan for Ireland.
- Assess current performance and evaluation frameworks within the Irish public sector, including auditing frameworks, or those commonly adopted and reported on in other countries that have well established Open Data programs such as Canada, the US and the UK and as per the RfT.
- Reassess the Open Data Barometer evaluation recommendation in the DPER/Insight report in light of its objectives and its target use and determine if it is a suitable model for a western developed national Open Data program.
- Consider high impact datasets, those of public, social and environmental significance along with those considered to be of high value.
We’re proud at the Programmable City project to be launching the Dublin Dashboard, one of the first major outputs from the project. Below is a short video overview, part of the press release, and our slides from the launch.
The Dublin Dashboard provides citizens, researchers, planners, policy makers and companies with real-time information, time-series data, and interactive maps about all aspects of the city. It allows users to gain a better understand how the city is performing, to undertake evidence-informed analysis, and to improve their everyday decision making. For example, you can learn about how the city economy is performing at a glance, visualise crime levels by garda station and district, and monitor traffic flows and car parking spaces in real time.
Owen Keegan, Chief Executive for Dublin City Council officially launched the Dublin Dashboard. “The Dublin Dashboard is a great example of a local authority and a university working together for the benefit of citizens. The real value for city leaders is how the dashboard will help Dublin to monitor performance.
“A massive wealth of data is being made available, including real-time data, about the economy, transport, planning, housing, health, population, the environment, and emergency services. We are committed to further developing and improving the range of city data and information available on the platform.”
The dashboard is made up of a number of modules that can be easily used to explore hundreds of graphs, maps and apps concerning how Dublin is performing over time and in relation to other locales, what is happening in the city right now, the location of all kinds of facilities, and how to report on particular issues.
The dashboard has been developed in conjunction with the All-Island Research Observatory at Maynooth University and Dublin City Council, and is funded by the European Research Council and Science Foundation Ireland.
Professor Rob Kitchin, the project principal investigator, welcomed Dublin City Council’s support in making data available for the Dashboard. “The aim of the site is to empower people living and working in Dublin by providing them with easy to access intelligence about the city,” he said. “For example, users can jump onto the system before they leave for work to see how the traffic is flowing or see what spaces are available in different car parks. Prospective house buyers can explore the characteristics of an area and how close different amenities are.”
Dr Gavin McArdle, the lead developer for the Dashboard, explained that the site is based on a principle of openness. “We wanted to create an open platform where anyone can take the data we use and build their own apps, or to connect their own apps back into the site to add new functionality,” he said. “Our approach has sought to avoid re-inventing the wheel, so if a good app already exists we just link to that rather than creating our own version.”
The data underpinning the website is drawn from a number of data providers — including Dublin City Council, Dublinked, Central Statistics Office, Eurostat, and government departments, and links to a variety of existing applications. The underlying data is freely available so others can undertake their own analysis and build their own applications and visualisations.
There are plans in place to add new real-time datasets, including maps of social media, and new interactive mapping modules.
Our slides from the launch are below.
Visit the Dublin Dashboard