Birmingham – Open City
7th April 2009
….or at least that’s the fancy title of the pilot project we’re running with funding from the department for Communities and Local Government. As announced by Hazel Blears, Birmingham is one of ten English councils who secured funding for a ‘Timely Information for Citizens’ pilot project.
The idea behind ‘Birmingham – Open City’ is to develop a community of practice around developing new resources to empower citizens. When Digital Birmingham were working up the bid we went on the basis that we shouldn’t presume what kind of services could be developed, or indeed, what kind of data sources could be made available to develop them. Instead we’re focusing on putting some resource into generating the collaborations, discussions, creativity and debate from which new services can spring.
The funding isn’t huge but it does include a mix of capital and revenue. That is, there’s some money in there for physical resources as well as people’s time. Now we’ve got the funds we’ll begin some discussions with the community about how best to acheive the aims and objectives of the project.
The project aims to: increase awareness of council datasets accessible by citizens; produce innovative examples of resources using council datasets; develop expertise in representative groups that connect to citizens and provide a resource point and a feedback channel to the council to facilitate impact on service provision.
So by the end of the project we should have equipped a resource room available for project development, supported two development events to demonstrate to the third sector the capabilities of working with local authority data, provided mentoring to a third sector representative organisation and produced at least two demonstrator projects.
And of course we’ll have set up a project blog to publish results, discuss project issues, exchange expertise and provide a feedback route to council officers.
We’ll kick off post-Easter and the whole project needs to be done and dusted and reporting back to government by August. Suggestions, comments, etc., welcome.