The Open Data Cities Conference happened last Friday, and Adam Tinworth was on hand. He has provided informative recaps of several of the presentations on One Man and His Blog. One of the most intriguing is his recap of Emer Coleman's reflections on her experience building the London Data Store. Tinworth reports that the first lesson Coleman learned was "It was never about the data." He writes, "The conversations are not about data - they're about the threat it was to the public sector. It creates a totally different approach to governance, so you gave have mature conversations with the electorate, who have the same data that government does. You move from the tyranny of the experts to the wisdom of the crowds. But that's uncomfortable for back office statisticians who have not been used to being in the public gaze."
The second lesson Coleman imparted was that "The state cannot do this alone: Politicians are often open to data release - but officials aren't. So she ended up as internal lobbyist, and also working with digital disruptors both inside and outside the business to get what they needed done. There's also the Goverati - people outside the traditional structure who are prepared to pitch in at events like GovCamp 2011. If the public sector can be less defensive, there are plenty of people to bring into projects. Some of those are real experts - like Jonathan Raper - and can give you the information you need to push back against internal resistance. Get ugly early - release stuff quickly in the from people need, and iterate."
Image: Courtesy ODCC