In this how-to post we’re going to show you how easy it is to ‘open’ your data.
You’ve probably heard mention of open data in the press. To generalise, they’re probably talking about organisations publishing (usually on their website) data about the work that they do, for anyone to access and use.
When people with the right skills get hold of data about services they can create interesting tools, maps and visualisations by combining it with other publicly available information.
There is a growing movement towards requiring publicly funded organisations to publish information about the work that they do. This is already happening in the USA and it’s on its way to the UK voluntary sector. It’s already happening in the UK scientific and academic sectors.
To be clear from the outset, this data is not the names of the people you work with, it’s not their date of birth or email address, it’s not even the postcode of where they live.
Opened data cannot be something that would allow others to identify a person.
Most of the data that you can open is just numbers. How many people you worked with last year, how many people access each of your different services, how many support groups you ran in the last year are just a few examples.
For this example we’re going to extract and open data about the number of people you worked with in 2012.
In Lamplight run a work report with the filters:
- Date range 1st Jan to 31st Dec 2012.
- Attendance type ‘Attended’, so we don’t include anyone who cancelled or didn’t show up to events.
- Role ‘Service user’, so that we’re not including any staff or volunteers.
Run the report.
Our next step is to download this data. Click on the download link and it will save to your computer.
By default it will save the file in a .xls format. This is OK but it will be easier to work with if it’s in .csv format. Open up the document and then ‘Save as’, changing the type to .csv
To open your data it needs to be in a place that others can find it.
The easiest way to do this is to put it onto your website. We like the idea of adding a /open page as the place that your opened data is saved on – like ours at www.lamplightdb.co.uk/open
If you do choose to do that then tell Slash Open so they can add you to their directory.
You need to people that they’re free to use the data, so add this to your /open page:
“The data on this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.” – or alternative licenses if you prefer – you could use Creative Commons license chooser
Well done, you’ve just opened up your data.
Now that you know how many people you worked with last year, take part in the Open Data Challenge.
If you’d like any help with opening up your Lamplight data then just drop us a line.