Stirling Council – Open Data for Open Government

Vintage Ordinance Survey Map of Stirling
Vintage Ordinance Survey Map of Stirling

If [governments] prove capable of embracing a world of disruptive change, subjecting their structures to the levels of transparency and efficiency that will enable them to maintain their competitive edge, they will endure. If they cannot evolve, they will face increasing trouble.

This is a quote by Klaus Schwab and it is particularly important because he is the Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum. He isn’t mincing his words in his warning to public bodies and their need to adopt disruptive technologies to change their approach to future development.

Through the CivTech® program Stirling Council have taken steps to move forward in regards to their customer understanding through better data analysis. They posed a challenge: How can Stirling Council better understand their data to improve all aspects of their services?

This seems straightforward enough. However, Wittin’s winning response was that Stirling Council, or any other local council for that matter, didn’t have the resources to analyse their data effectively. At least not enough to make a significant impact. We presented a model that supported both open data and open government by anonymizing data where required and releasing it all to the public. Then to engage citizen scientists to interact with the council to solve problems and improve services.

So our proposed tool has four key parts:

We are focusing on the diverse amount and types of data that Stirling Council generate. Then we will focus on building connections to each pool of data. So, for example, a customer relationship management tool will have an underlying database. We build a connection from that to our tool. Same with the phone recording software and social media channels. Everything gets a link directly into our tool.

Taking the data from these connections we need to automatically run it through anonymization. Then we will rely on natural language processing machine learning algorithms to seek out and anonymize data. It is crucial we get this aspect of the tool right. So we are working with several data-based organisations to ensure compliance with the current Data Protection Act of 1998 and the upcoming Government Data Protection Regulation in May 2018.

Data Lake
Once anonymized we store the data in a data lake preserving the original structure and format of the data and facilitating ease of use in analysis systems and sharing.

Online Portal
Finally, we are building an online portal where we will build a community of citizen scientists. We will work with the council effectively evaluating data and suggesting changes. The ultimate aim is to create a culture that involves the little an often approach to service changes. Making continuous improvement a key aspect of Stirling Council’s processes and directly involving citizens in this process.

The project is due to begin in the next week. Wittin is looking forward to presenting a tool for the next level of open government.

Next articleCivTech Demo Day Presentation
Born into the wilds of mid-western America, Matthew has lived his life creating. The kind of kid that bought a tarp, some PVC pipe and a skate board; fashioned himself a windsurfing set-up and then saw an opportunity in a local tornado. "Sorry Mom." Undergraduate in Art and Design, Doctorate in Scottish History, Matthew came late to the realisation that if he's going to use his diverse skill set he'd have to employ himself.