The temptation to gather more and more data is easy to fall into, but what about making more effective use of what we already have? Great idea, if we knew what we had, where it is, and how it could be used.
In November 2016, we ran the first Birmingham Highways Data Challenge (#brumdatahack). This brought key datasets, partners (including HS2, Highways England, Department for Transport, West Midlands Combined Authority, Birmingham City Council, Amey, Mott MacDonald, Open Street Map, TransportAPI, Roadworks.org/Elgin, and West Midlands Fire Service), SME’s, and universities together to create prototype solutions to these challenges. What the Teams created.
We learnt that many of the datasets available are too complex for those outside of their source organisations to understand. So we need to make the data more accessible to enable SME’s and universities to innovate and collaborate more easily.
We also know:
- many of the partner organisations recognise the need to open and share their data, and collaborate outside traditional boundaries, but are unsure how to achieve this.
- we need to improve digital, data and collaboration skills for staff within the highways, rail, construction, freight/haulage and public transport industries
- engaging and enabling local communities early in the process is crucial to accommodating their needs, reducing congestion, improving air quality, health and wellbeing, and enabling local businesses to thrive during the changes.
To help solve these problems, the Data Discovery Centre concept was born. We trialled the concept live at Traffex in April 2017, and between July and December 2017 we’re setting up a permanent version in the Transport Systems Catapult / West Midlands Combined Authority Intelligent Mobility Incubator at iCentrum.