Person on mobile phone

Resources: What is open data and what could it do for you?

Open data is data that anyone can access, use or share. Governments and public bodies have been some of the biggest publishers of open data so far, but anyone can publish data in this way. In fact many services and apps you use every day often rely on open data, such as apps for finding your way from A to B across a city, like Citymapper, which use open transport data.

As a business you might want to consider publishing open data (not just using open data) to allow other businesses to build on your technology platform, to improve supply chain management, or create transparency and greater trust over an area of your business.

Open data can also be used to change how a sector operates, helping consumers have wider choices. The UK’s new Open Banking standards  and open data APIs , which make it easier for customers to switch banks or use their data to compare financial services, show what’s possible.

The video below introduces a few more examples from across the world of how open data is making a difference.

To understand how open data could play a role in your organisation, get in touch.


Bringing digital and data disruption to government

In late 2016 I was invited with my democracy hat on to speak at TransPolitica, in the session “Bringing digital and data disruption to government”. It’s a conference aiming at real world policy changes for a radically better future.

Together with Tim from the CivicTech coworking hub RainGods (home to Represent’s London office) and Dan from MegaNexus we discussed how social enterprises are revolutionising democracy and the political process: from better information, to more abundant voting, and crowd intelligence to the very purpose of Government.

Tim does a great intro to the civtech and government tech landscape at the start, and my bit kicks in about 14 minutes in.

Image credit: Big Ben by Glenluwin (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Big Ben

A guide to the UK government’s digital marketplace

Or… How to be in a position to bid for UK government open digital contracts

(Note: this doesn’t mean you might not be able to get work with government in other ways.)

Big Ben

To apply to be a new government digital service supplier under the digital marketplace at the moment is difficult until January or may be even February 2017, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared.

Anyone can add their very basic company details to the digital marketplace (have that elusive DUNs number to hand when you do).

This doesn’t get you very far.

To become a supplier you are required to register either as a GCloud and/or Digital Outcomes & Specialist supplier under a current framework.

In reality this means that GCloud and Digital Outcomes are not fixed registration processes, but temporary opportunity windows under which contracts are made available. I won’t bore you here with why.

Each framework will have a set of agreements that a supplier will need to adhere to in order to register and then pitch for contracts. These agreements may include compliance standards, such as accessibility on the web, or ways of working, such as user testing.

Roughly, speaking…

GCloud Framework is for tech services that already exist on the internet. Defined in four parts: platform/software/infrastructure as a service and specialist cloud services (which aren’t necessarily what you’d think they’d be).

Digital Outcomes and Specialists Framework – is mostly for people as services and ancillary services. For example designers, user research. Lots of the contracts might elsewhere be described as job ads.

Applications for GCloud or Digital Outcomes are done by applying to a their relative ‘framework’ or contract notice, which only open for certain, very short, periods of the year. For example, GCloud Framework 8 has closed for applications, and was only open for a few weeks.

The next GCloud Framework (9), won’t now open until early 2017.

Once you have signed a framework agreement (example), it lasts for a year, unless stated otherwise in the framework.

It is currently unclear when the next Digital Outcomes framework will open.

Only once you have a signed framework agreement can you then bid for contracts on the Digital Marketplace, under the relative framework.

So to sum up:

  • Add your basic details to the Digital Marketplace so that you are ready to apply to a framework (takes about 10 minutes).
  • Understand which framework applies to you.
  • Check if your systems/services adhere to expected standards in the agreements, such as government’s Technology Code of Practice (go to the framework pages listed above to find out what these are likely to be for your organisation).
  • Update systems/services accordingly in preparation for your application (do not underestimate how long this may take).
  • Be alert for when the next dates when applications to the frameworks open.
  • Be ready to fill in the details required quickly, as the opportunities are brief and infrequent.
  • Only once you have a signed agreement can you then bid for contracts on the Digital Marketplace.

Image of Big Ben by Rik.