Updated resource guide for Local Economic Assessments

Understanding local factors in a local area’s economic development, how these have developed, how they’re predicted to develop, and which factors are (or have potential to be) particularly significant — will be essential in informing developing Local Enterpise Partnerships (LEPs) and economic strategies. Equally, the functional relationships between local areas is likely to become more important in policy-making.

With regions no longer the focus of evidence-gathering and policy-making, and an increased emphasis on local decision-making, Local Economic Assessments are an opportunity to focus the collection of evidence to understand the impact of new national policies and to develop local economic ‘stories of place.’

The intelligence in a Local Economic Assessment can also highlight where resources can most productively be targeted to improve local economic development.

To help Local Authorities prepare their Assessments, we’ve created a new web-based resource guide, building on an earlier version circulated in May. This addition to the Observatory’s resource catalogue signposts resources relevant to Local Economic Assessments produced by a range of organisations, as well as the Observatory’s own research.

The resources are grouped into six areas, based on the themes set out in LEA guidance published in March 2010. While that guidance is no longer statutory, it’s still a useful framework to draw on.

The themes you can search by are:

Within each theme, you can search for:

  • Data sources: datasets and primary research
  • Analysis: interpretation of data and other evidence in the West Midlands and local authorities
  • Guidance documents: examples and methodologies for you to follow if you wish
  • Other resources: examples of research from outside the West Midlands, and useful links to other websites and research networks

We hope you find this resource guide useful. You can be notified when new resources are added via this RSS feed or email alert. If you have resources you think others would find useful, please submit them to our Resource Catalogue (requires login) or contact stephen.howarth@wmro.org.

Open Data Commons Attribution License released

Open Data Commons have launched a new license that helps those who want to share data and databases and ensure attribution is maintained.

The Open Data Commons Attribution License (abbreviated to ODC-BY) is similar to Creative Commons Attribution license, yet is specifically for databases.

There’s a plain English summary and full license text.

If you want to share your data to enable others to share, create works based on it or adapt into new applications—on condition that any public use of the database is attributed back to you—this is a useful resource.

Government ensures free access to some Ordnance Survey maps

Gordon Brown, Liam Byrne and Sir Tim Berners-Lee at the Smarter Government seminar at Downing Street, 17th November 2009

Gordon Brown, Liam Byrne and Sir Tim Berners-Lee at the Smarter Government seminar at Downing Street, 17th November 2009

Photo of Smarter Government seminar by Downing Street

Some Ordnance Survey maps are to be made available to businesses and the public, as part of the Government’s drive to open up data to improve transparency.

Speaking at a seminar yesterday on Smarter Government in Downing Street, attended by Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt, the Prime Minister and Communities Secretary John Denham set out how the Government and Ordnance Survey, Great Britain’s national mapping agency, will open up its data relating to electoral and local authority boundaries, postcode areas and mid scale mapping information.

This data would be released for free re-use, including commercially.

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Feedback on Sharing Information Digitally event

Cutout figures connected by green light

We hosted an event on Sharing Information Digitally on 7th October 2009 at Millennium Point in Birmingham.

We tried a new structure for this event—part traditional presentations, part practical sessions—and thought we’d share some feedback on the event (from attendees and ourselves).

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Roundup from Sharing Information Digitally event

Cutout figures connected by green light

Yesterday’s event at Millennium Point looked at the whys and hows of making public data more accessible.

There were also some practical discussions looking at using social media and online tools to improve sharing data and information.

Richard Wilson, from Sandwell PCT and Chair of the Population & Society Group, chaired the day. You can listen to his introduction:

This post rounds up all the main speakers and resources from the event.

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Web service API for Observatory’s search service

Screenshot of website sources included in web service API

A new search engine went live on the Observatory’s website last month. The aim is to provide you with better search results — ranked by relevancy — and more detailed controls over refinements to your search results.

Another feature is that the search service provides search results from other regional organisations’ websites; the search isn’t limited to the pages within wmro.org.

Also, the search service is open for use by other organisations. The search functions are exposed as a web service API, which developers can use to query our search index and display the results in their own websites or applications.

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Summary of data, mashups and APIs event

Birmigham Social Media CafeLast Wednesday, I went to an event at Fazeley Studios in Birmingham to explore innovative, useful and important applications of data.

The event — titled Data, Mashups and APIs — was organised by Birmingham Social Media Cafe and sponsored by The Guardian, Barefoot Wine and Screen WM.

I won’t try and summarise the whole event. A huge amount of material was covered and Chris Unitt has already posted this very detailed round up pulling together all of the talks and links.

However, I thought I’d pull out a couple of highlights.

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Observatory hosting event on sharing information digitally

Cutout figures connected by green light

The Observatory’s Population & Society Group is hosting an event exploring the whys and hows of making public data more accessible. We’ll also look at using social media to improve sharing data and information.

This full-day event will be held in Birmingham on 7th October. With speakers from the Guardian’s Free Our Data campaign, Lichfield District Council, Digital Birmingham and We Share Stuff, this will be an informative and practical day for anyone involved in data and information sharing in the West Midlands.

(Updated 5th Oct: the event is now fully booked).

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LocalGovCamp unconference for local government

LocalGovCamp an unconference for local governmentLocalGovCamp is an unconference for local government being held in Birmingham at Fazeley Studios on 20 June 2009.

The event will be will be a gathering of people interested in how local government needs to adapt to a world of social networks and data sharing.

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Better ways to share information digitally

Green human figures connected by blue lines

The Observatory’s Population & Society Group is planning a seminar in the summer to investigate and discuss how research organisations in the West Midlands can get better at sharing information digitally. Do you have any thoughts on this?

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Google and Ordnance Survey come to Birmingham

Ordnance Survey and Google logosA number of Regional Data & Intelligence Network members have raised concerns about changes to Ordnance Survey’s (OS) terms and conditions, which will limit the sharing of data derived from OS mapping products.

We’ve just been informed of an event being run by The Map Info User group for the UK and Ireland (MUGUKI) next week, to discuss this very issue with representatives from Ordnance Survey and Google.

When? Thursday 12th March 1:30pm to 4pm

Where? The Holiday Inn, Birmingham City Centre, Smallbrook, Queensway, Birmingham, B5 4EW

How much? Non Members (of MUGUKI) – £25 each. Members (of MUGUKI) – Free, with up to 1 guest.

Agenda and booking: Read the agenda and book a place at the event

Sharing intelligence from Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire

Yesterday, I attended the Coventry, Solihull and Wawickshire Researchers’ Forum to demonstrate the Observatory’s Resource Catalogue and show how the data and intelligence in the catalogue might support the work that they’re engaged in, and also to encourage further contributions to the catalogue from members of the forum to help share their data and intelligence across the region and sub-region.

The Resource Catalogue is available through the Observatory’s website and collects research, data and policy documents from across the West Midlands to create a fully searchable database for policy makers, decision makers, researchers and anyone else to access. There are contributions from organisations across the public, private and third sectors and what is particularly useful is that almost all are free and available immediately via a web-link.

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Data sharing review promotes ‘safe havens’

The final report of a major review of data sharing has been released today by the Ministry of Justice. Co-authored by the Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, and Wellcome Trust director, Mark Walport, the report considers whether changes are required to existing data protection legislation and provide recommendations on how data-sharing policy should be developed to ensure proper transparency, scrutiny and accountability.

The report makes a number of recommendations on the way that we, as an organisation which undertakes population-based research statistical analysis, might minimise the risk of identifying individuals. Continue reading