Open data visualisation: the dawn of understanding?

Written by Alasdair Rae on . Posted in Opinion

Much has been made in recent years of the rise of open data and the possibilities it offers. Whilst achieving much less fame than big data, its more glamorous cousin, open data has begun to revolutionise the way we can understand the world. In particular, it has been seized upon by experts in urban data visualisation in ways that would not have been possible only five years ago.

However, there has also been something of a backlash against what critics perceive to be ‘fancy graphics’ and ‘pointless maps’, so in this short piece I focus on some fundamental open data questions and offer two concrete examples where open data has increased transparency, improved access to information and helped places begin to understand and solve problems.

Zombie facts and the use of evidence in the 2015 general election

Written by Jonathan Breckon on . Posted in Opinion

The next election in May 2015 will see a growth of fact-checking that will be ‘coming out of our ears’, according to a roundtable at Nesta on the use of evidence for the general election.

Ground-breaking innovative initiatives like Full Fact, Education Media Centre, Evidence Matters and the Channel 4 News FactCheck blogs and the forthcoming The Conversation’s manifesto fact checking will make journalists, politicians and the public twice about their claims.

The healthcare perspective on data sharing

Written by Robert Grant on . Posted in Opinion

It is surely a sign of the times that a subject as inimical to high-impact journalism as data processing has featured in the news a lot recently. We hear plenty about big data and the research opportunities it offers, so it seems a good idea to take a fresh look at the colossal data resources of the NHS, to see whether we can discover new treatments and risk factors from it, and thus save and improve lives.

It’s time for the private sector to release some open data too

Written by Owen Boswarva on . Posted in Opinion

I’ve written before about the UK National Information Infrastructure (UKNII), a Cabinet Office project to identify the more important and useful public data assets and perhaps nudge some of them towards open data release. I’ve been critical of progress so far, but the basic idea is sound. This is potentially an important initiative for open data and public sector information in general.

Confidentiality costs

Written by Sheila Bird on . Posted in Opinion

Care.data has met a hail of criticism. Technical solutions which both protect patient-confidentiality and enable linkages in the public interest had been eschewed. Why? Each of three possible reasons - economy, expediency, ignorance - is unacceptable. Confidentiality costs, but the pay-off from properly designed, ethically approved record linkage is great potential for new discoveries in the public interest.