We are halfway through delivering a year-long programme of free open data training for Scottish public sector organisations on behalf of Scottish Government. From talking to over 100 people in 16 sessions since November 2015, we’ve gathered substantial insight and feedback from people at all levels in public services on how they approach opening data in their organisations, their challenges around open data and what they need to make their organisations more open. We’re offering one- and two-day sessions across Scotland until autumn 2016 and you can register for an upcoming session on Eventbrite.

Here are the things we’re hearing most often from the people who have attended our open data training:

This is a challenge and we will struggle

While delegates said making data open and accessible will be a struggle due to resources, they also felt that now is the time to be proactive about it. With ‘open by default’ becoming standard best practice in public services, preparing an open data plan now will mitigate the stressful impact of rolling out late. One of our delegates’ most common reflections is that opening up your data doesn’t need to be done all at once - start small now and build over time and do this in an achievable way.

A collaborative network is needed

Public services are reliant on each other for learning and sharing good practice. We’ve been hearing from delegates that after attending our training they feel less alone in their open data journey and, after having time and space to think about and discuss open data, they are more confident in what their next steps should be.

There are a number of places online you can go to find peers to learn from and work with as you start thinking about your own open data plan. The Scottish Government has opened a Knowledge Hub group called Digital Public Services- Open Data Network (registration required) which is a knowledge exchange and collaboration space. There is also an active network of practitioners and forward thinkers on Twitter. We hear from a lot of delegates that the practicalities around opening data are particularly difficult and by strengthening these existing networks, you will help each other progress. We’re part of these networks too and we’re always on hand to help.

Case studies and reference materials are really useful

The people who have come along to our training tell us they love the resources and case studies we provide in the sessions. We’ve compiled these resources to help you access more detailed information about things like open data licensing, relevant legislation and strategies. Case studies mean you can see first-hand how organisations like yours present open data and learn about how they got to where they are. Here are a few useful links to get you started:

Resources

Scottish Government Open Data Strategy

Open Data Resource Pack - The Scottish Government put this pack together to help public authorities in Scotland develop and implement their own plans for open data.

Practical Licensing Guide -  This has been developed by JISC for organisations who are considering the issues associated with licensing open data and/or want to understand the terms under which they can use data which has been licensed by third parties. It provides a practical overview of the various legal issues that might arise in the context of licensing open data, as well as the different types of licences which

Case studies

Make it Local Scotland- This NESTA funded programme aimed to show how local authorities can work with digital media companies to unlock their data and provide useful apps and web services for their citizens.

Transport for London Innovation Portal - The Technology Innovation Portal intends to bridge thoughts and inspirations for technological solutions to real-life challenges and helps get good ideas directly in front of our domain experts and accountable managers.

OPEN Glasgow- By making data easily accessible to all, OPEN Glasgow creates a level playing field for people to build, develop or simply play on.

Leeds Data Mill- Owned and managed by Leeds City Council, Leeds Data Mill enables people and organisations to explore the different complex relationships between the city’s services and businesses by collecting Open Data from multiple sources in a single website, offering a greater insight into the workings of the city than ever before.

Next steps

We’re hearing that our one- and two-day sessions have motivated people so much that they want more! We’re thinking about building on suggestions delegates have made about providing hands-on workshops to be able to play around with real data and very specific sessions on things like metadata, licensing issues and getting to 5* publication standards. If you’re not part of Scottish public services, contact us to find out how we can provide open data training and workshops to your organisation.

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