DATA Play 2 day one has arrived

Today’s the day! After weeks of preparation, stress, awkward conversations and a lot of data passed around it’s finally time for DATA Play 2! And… it’s going well!

The venue is great and suited for creative minds, with open spaces, thinking pods and tea and coffee on tap, it’s perfect to kick-start ideas into action.

After a quick introduction from Hannah and Tom from Plymouth City Council and Martin from ODI Devon encouraging everyone to enjoy the day, talk to each other and play, everyone quickly spread out, settled down and started thinking all things data.

Walking around you realise what an eclectic mix of people have popped in and all the different spaces that have been set up, retro gaming in particular is very popular.

And now it’s lunchtime, PICNIC Coffee & Kitchen have truly outdone themselves with great tasty rolls, salads, cakes and a piece of fruit for good measure. Delicious!


After lunch, we had a great lecture from Chris Hunt (@thisisthechris) at i-DAT , who had brought down his rabble of DAT (Digital Art and Technology) students. Chris started off with an introduction to what open data is, as well as asking various audience members if familiar websites and services were ‘open’ or not. The last question ‘Is Twitter open data?’ was asked of a certain Planning Officer and her memorable response was ‘I was going to say yes, but now I’m going for no’. Correct answer!

Chris then talked about what makes good open data, talking about standards, accuracy and the ability for people to consume it. We then split into groups,with the DAT students strategically dispersed among us, to discuss how we would take potential open data from identification all the way through to a project that this data could support. This session was interspersed with talks from a member of each group to elaborate on each stage of the data’s path to openness (one of the talkers roped in being yours truly, someone with a medium to strong fear of public speaking!)

We has some great ideas coming out of this workshop; virtual trees that bloom based on footfall around them and offering rewards once fully bloomed, apps to determine the happiness and personal security feelings of people in areas around the city, cider based rewards for collecting data about the city’s trees and 3D maps of Plymouth to show where schools and libraries are to name a few!

While Chris was speaking, the hardcore dataheads were busy on their projects that were incepted this morning and when the lecture had finished, these guys had a chance to present some of their ideas. We were blown away by some of the skills at play here! One team had built a webpage showing the parking zones within the city where most parking fines are issues, laughter ensued when it transpires that the area around the uni is the worst for this! But they were also looking into other uses of this parking data, for example telling people exactly which parking zone they are in or directing them to the nearest Council car park.

Another team had an idea for a system that would advise people moving into an area about their potential surroundings. Where the nearest school is, and its OFSTED report, where the nearest green space is, the closest shop, library, polling station etc etc.

We also had the fantastic idea of a Plymouth Tamagotchi! Like the 90s toy, this would be an app or device that would live and breathe, but instead of a piece of plastic, a whole city! Users would have to keep the city ‘alive’ by walking to various parks and landmarks and ‘feeding’ them. Area’s health would be determined by various factors and actions the player takes would affect this. It was pointed out that this could also benefit by promoting exercise, so a win-win really!

Join us tomorrow for more of the same, we’ve got the young people’s coding club coming in the morning which should be fun, you may even learn something (I know I will, my Raspberry Pi book is aimed at toddlers I think). There’s a pizza lunch, and more fun with data in the afternoon!

It’s been a fantastic day, so many great ideas have been put forwards so far, and who knows what people are keeping close to their chests! After all, it would be a shame to give away your £2,000 idea on Day 1, right?

4 March 2016

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