• Making things open – using Git

    A few weeks ago we got an email from a colleague here, with a problem that needed solving; our ICT people were starting to look at the issue of data storage, and had flagged up things like the Spend Over £500 files – big csv files that we publish every month, going back several years –  as something we needed to look at before they became unmanageable. At the same time we were hearing that the process for adding a new file each month was ridiculously manual, tedious and about as far from agile as you could get. It got even worse when we talked about moving the files somewhere and updating the web pages they’re catalogued on – every link would have to be re-made manually.… Read the rest
  • Making use of open data

    We were very pleased, a couple of weeks ago, to discover that some of our open data has been put to good use – Jim Patterson, a developer who’s just moved to Devon, put together the Devon Spends website as a project to summarise and display the ‘Spend over £500’ data that we release every month.

    We caught up with Jim this week and asked him a few questions; here’s what we talked about.

    Firstly, the big question; what brought you to Devon?

    The beaches!  There’s a distinct lack of them in the East Midlands.  In truth, much of my extended family have moved down over the past couple of years; I thought I’d follow their lead.  … Read the rest

  • From this to that – Iterating with data dashboards

    One of the things about catching up with colleagues is that you get to find out all the interesting stuff they do and are proud of.

    Earlier today I caught up with Lucy Knight about the work she has been doing on data dashboards and we were looking at ways in which we can support her iterative development and take her prototypes into the mainstream of the councils internet infrastructure.

    Lucy is a leader around Open Data and wrote a very insightful piece for LocalGovDigital about De-geekifying open data, which is well worth a read if you haven’t already.

    The conversation we had focused on the latest iteration of her work as part of the Cloche Project, basically an intrapreneur team working on better data presentation; making data make sense.… Read the rest

  • Our Journey to Open and Linked Data

    With the rather sinister job title of ‘head of strategic intelligence’, I’m required to take a very broad and long term view of the information that is needed and produced by, and passes through, Devon County Council. Clearly, it is far beyond my personal capacity to understand the nuances of data about customer satisfaction, service performance, economic conditions and all the rest that affect what the authority does
  • WordPress as a corporate CMS

    This post could be seen as a part 1 or part 2 in a series as my colleague Sam Freeman will also be writing a post about wordpress, but more about the background as to why we chose it as a team. This post focuses on the corporate CMS opportunity of wordpress and to dispel a few myths that it is simply a blogging platform.

    As a team, we’d all agreed that WordPress was the sensible platform to go with. We had enough HTML / CSS skills in the team to create templates and themes as well as PHP / MySQL skills in order to tweak and create bespoke functionality.… Read the rest