The hackday project that crowdsourced data.gov.uk
How many of the now 3241 datasets listed as part of data.gov.uk are easy to open up and play with? How many are tables for computers to analyse, instead of PDF reports for people to read?
The Hacks and Hackers Hackday filled a Channel 4 office with journalists and developers on the final Friday in January. Our aim was to tell new stories with open data. Attendees already had form - the BBC's Open Secrets blogger Martin Rosenbaum, and data journalism teams from the Times, the Guardian, and the FT. Tom Loosemore judged our attempts in his role as head of hosts 4iP, alongside My Society boss Tom Steinberg. They awarded the prize to my team's analysis of Tory candidates. But another project promised to shed light on public data in the UK.
Tom Morris was part of a team that looked into the quality of data.gov.uk. Although data.gov.uk advertises itself as a database of open datasets, many of the entries are actually PDF files. He built a prototype format checker that invites people to go through datasets and record the file format.