Council setting up “digital space” for people to collaborate to solve Leeds problems

Digital space - artist's impression

Digital space – artist’s impression

The council in Leeds is going to set up a “digital space” where everyone can collaborate to help solve the city’s problems.

Interesting stuff.

Here’s what the council’s chief ICT officer Dylan Roberts says:

“The world’s most successful cities have digital programmes where public and private sectors co-operate. Here in Leeds we’re creating the Smart City Team to do just that. Within the next 12 months we aim to create a space where people from all sectors can collaborate to develop smart solutions to city problems that affect us all.”

Can’t give you any further details unfortunately, either about the Team or what the “space” might look like, or whether they really mean US that’s going to be invited to collaborate in the problem-solving.*

That’s because the brief quote above doesn’t come from a press release or council document, but from a comment written this morning by Mr Roberts on a Guardian website.

And I can’t find anything about it anywhere else.

Data institute

leeds data shedThere’s a further brief announcement too in his comment – that the council is going to establish an Open Data Institute.

“We’ll put Leeds on the map as a centre for data analytics securing new opportunities and establish an Open Data Institute that will encourage the open data culture boosting the city economically, environmentally and socially,” he says.

You may not have noticed, but simply everyone is talking “open data” in Leeds these days. If, like me, you’re not sure what open data is but want to get with the programme, there’s some info here, but it’s sketchy.

opendataAnyway, it’s not clear whether this new council institute is going to be different from the other Open Data Institute, the one founded by Tim Berners Lee, that “Leeds” apparently joined as a “node” in Autumn.

Not clear either where the future council-backed institute fits in with the latest private sector (or non-public sector, at least) plans to launch a new open data platform for Leeds. That platform – known as the Leeds Data Shed – is going to be a community resource that holds open data about Leeds.

My guess – from the tweet below from the Chief Economic Development Officer at the council – is that they’re all one and the same: that we’re talking a Leeds public-private-opendata-partnership-hydra, the reach of whose tentacles is being negotiated in civic meeting rooms as we speak. 



smartcityteamAll will no doubt be revealed.

(*I did try and search for “Smart City Team” and “Open Data Institute” on the council’s website so I could find out more about both plans, but it came up with nothing. That either means that councillors haven’t yet talked about either project officially, or the site’s new search function still doesn’t … oh, never mind) 


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4 Responses to Council setting up “digital space” for people to collaborate to solve Leeds problems

  1. Sounds great, would love to be involved!

  2. I was being generous when i interpreted his “all sectors” re the problem-solving “space” as being thee and me. Pretty sure he means the usual partnership suspects.

    Don’t know what sector the Data Shed belongs too. Those of us who don’t align don’t count.

  3. Simon Cooke says:

    I smell wibble here…not the ‘open data’ stuff, that’s a good thing, but the Smart City Team malarkey. This wizzo collaboration in some vague ‘digital space’ between the public and private sector. Yer man doesn’t city any examples beyond “the most successful cities” (Shanghai? Hong Kong? London? New York? – or do they mean those much beloved faiures in Europe that are painted up so wel – Montpelier and Freiberg?)

    If you look up smarter cities you get this:

    A new generation of mayors is taking on the challenge of reinventing cities for the 21st century. IBM’s 2013 report, How to Reinvent a City: Mayors’ lessons from the Smarter Cities Challenge, shares the insights mayors learned from their participation in this IBM Citizenship initiative. Most these views were harvested at the Smarter Cities Challenge Summit, a gathering of mayors and other city leaders held November 14-15, 2012, near New York City. Participants hailed from more than 30 cities, ranging from Philadelphia and Burlington in the United States, to Nice and Katowice in Europe, and to Tshwane in Africa, Porto Alegre in Latin America and Cheongju in Asia.

    It looks like a very successful marketing campaign by IBM to me!

    • Gone all a do-dah after a quick peek at that, especially when they say that Birmingham is using guidance from the Smart Cities Challege Team to make evidence-based decisions on dumping ineffective programs. Crikey!

      The wibble factor of the data thingie yet to be determined.

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