Camden rolls out Open Data platform

Over 100 coders, developers, designers, programmers and data enthusiasts registered for Camden Council’s first ‘Open Data challenge’ to look for new and innovative ways of using data for the benefit of Camden residents.

The event held on Thursday 23 March 2017 formed part of the launch of Open Data Camden.

Camden’s data platform, which hosts over 300 different datasets, features up-to-date information on everything from parking bays and planning applications to housing stock and road accidents. Residents, businesses, community groups and others can access the data in several ways, depending on their need, to use the data to benefit Camden and its residents.

The Camden Open Data site has had 1.7m page views since it was first trialled in 2015. Camden has many times the number of datasets per head of population than London as a whole on the London Datastore (the GLA’s data site).

It includes datasets on council activities including spending on contractors, parking, planning applications as well as trees, housing repairs, assets of community value. Residents and businesses are able to request specific datasets if they are not already there, for example the recently added data around traffic accidents by area.

Councillor Theo Blackwell, Cabinet Member for Finance, Technology and Growth at Camden Council said: “In 2015 we became an open-by-default council where datasets would be published unless there was a compelling reason not to. Our platform has built up a huge store of clean, accessible data for public benefit. The data available on Open Data Camden has the potential to improve the everyday lives of local residents and we want to unlock this potential to improve public services and drive value in the digital economy.”

Improvements

Camden is using open data to improve services and internal efficiencies. For example, it has used it to create a new planning e-mail alert system and to add planning applications to customer accounts. This happened quickly and at low cost because open data is so easy for programmers to reuse. These apps have contributed to a £200,000 saving to the planning service’s budget by reducing the number of letters its sends to residents about planning applications.

Open Data Camden is powered by open data platform Socrata. Doug McLeod, Socrata Director for the UK commented: “Dozens of Camden Council datasets are updated every night automatically, and immediately made available to the community. Hundreds more are updated monthly or more regularly.

“Camden probably publishes more real, live data than any other UK Council and probably any other similar size government anywhere. Of even greater interest are the ways this data will be used to help reduce the costs of keeping Camden residents actively participating in the running and improving of Council services, and overall cost-reduction efforts.”

Sudip Trivedi, Camden’s Head of Data & Analytics, said: “We’ve had a fantastic response to the open data challenge and hope that it will be the first of many. We’re excited to be working with the developer community to make a real difference for the residents, communities and businesses of Camden.”

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