Playing with data at the Open Data Forum

Last week we had our first Devon Open Data Forum of the new year, hosted by ThinqTanq in Plymouth. While we’ll be setting up a programme of talks and demonstrations for 2016 this was a more relaxed evening – we wanted to get people together for a chat about what they’re working on, and maybe make some plans for collaboration.
We heard about a range of projects happening across the region, including an exciting initiative from Devon Communities Together. This is about getting as many partners involved as possible to combine data to support some of the most vulnerable people in Devon; the users of social care and health services who are most isolated either by distance, rurality or lack of local facilities. They’d love to hear from local developers and data owners with any suggestions about what could be built with the available data, or what could be added to the mix they’re already looking at – if that sounds like you, come along to the next one in Exeter where we’ll have Martin Parkes, the senior projects officer, along to give us a short talk on the subject.
We also heard more about Plymouth City Council’s plans for another Data Play Day in March, where we’ll be taking part and helping out with datasets and advice.
Keeping it deliberately upbeat, we moved on to testing the new Open Data Board Game currently in development at Open Data Institute HQ. We were lucky enough to secure one of the prototypes while we were at UK Gov Camp the previous weekend, and we promised to take good care of it and take it on a short tour of the South West to see how people get on with it. The ODI are taking all the feedback they receive and using it to refine the next iteration, so we’re looking forward to seeing what that looks like (and getting another set, please?).
Open data board game

Open data board game

Although a board game based on data might not sound desperately exciting, it was actually really good. It’s a bit like an empire building role-play,  with resources and goals and negotiations to navigate, and lots of potential for people to channel their inner philanthropist – or super villain – during the course of the game. Of course we all played it straight, as nice people intent on saving the world …
We’ll be bringing the board game and a couple of lightning talks to the next Open Data Forum at the Generator in Exeter on Wednesday 10th February – keep an eye out for details on the Meetup group or on Twitter to see what we’ve got planned.
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