urban research art, technology and urban life

Open Data Cities: Manchester

Kicking off a series of public events this spring organized by the Urban Research Group, Drew Hemment delivered a talk on FutureEverything’s Open Data Cities Lab and DataGM – the Greater Manchester Datastore, a partnership between FutureEverything and Trafford Council in Greater Manchester.

Open Data plays a critical role in making cities and their current conditions – from crime statistics to the status of transit services to recent census data, and everything in between – more accessible to their citizens. This can lead to new forms of civic participation and help foster a more democratic decision making process based on evidence-based policy decisions. Open Data is about collaboration and co-production, where the ability to aggregate and disseminate information through the Internet by individuals is a key enabling technology.

The discourse on Open Data has evolved over the past five years from an idea in the minds of many to online initiatives that have made data public in different ways, with varied results. Drew provided an insight into how Future Everything addressed the challenges of mediating between municipal agencies, creative technologists, hackers and proponents of open culture in the development of the Greater Manchester Datastore. Among the key issues going forward is the cultivation of greater data literacy across the public at large: what actors, structures and systems can help people make sense of the data now accessible, in ways that are relevant to their lives?

No stranger to Eyebeam, Drew was an honorary resident in the summer of 2010. He founded FutureEverything (originally FutureSonic) in 1996 – Europe’s leading festival of Art, Music and Ideas that takes place in May each year in Manchester, England. Drew is also Associate Director of ImaginationLancaster at Lancaster University in the UK.

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