The Birmingham Highways Data Challenge explored what would happen if we brought datasets, challenges and people together around key West Midlands and Birmingham City Council challenges for network resilience during construction of HS2. Here’s what we learnt, and what we’re doing next……
Things we achieved:
- Encouraged the release and sharing of a wide range of datasets from different organisations relevant to the specific regional challenge
- As a result of the introductions between Highways England, HS2, Transport for West Midlands and Birmingham City Council there is some early discussion about sharing data between these organisations.
- Connecting a wide range of interested people who don’t necessarily speak to each other – and an enthusiasm for getting together again
- Identifying where some ‘coding’ skillsets exist, particularly within large highways and transport organisations
- Potential use of Tom Forth’s Bus Tracker tool for performance monitoring discussion currently underway at Transport for West Midlands
- Winning team ‘Birmingham City Council Data Under Threat’ developing their concept with support from Innovation Engine project
What will do do differently next time:
- Engagement with universities to increase the number of ‘coders’
- Providing greater context around the datasets through workshops / masterclasses / demo’s with data owners, as very few users actually used the datasets provided without ‘encouragement’ from the dataset owners present on the day
What will we do now to take this forward:
- Share the recap, results and resolutions with the Department for Transport, 24th January 2017, demonstrating how these types of events help to serve the wider DfT challenges around local engagement, devolution, collaboration between strategic and local highways and other transport services, highways maintenance efficiency programme, road condition data and network resilience.
- Take the data into universities, with a Masterclass approach to help students connect in with real life challenges, and identify coders / developers / other skillsets to work with industry in future collaborative activities
- Create a regional hub for West Midlands data, where interested individuals and organisations (universities, SME’s, large companies, professional institutions) can learn skills in visualisation, coding and analysis of the data, and collaborate to solve the region’s key highways and transport challenges
- Prototype the basis for a national (UK wide) ongoing sustainable model for the exchange of highways data, and establish the foundations for the shared public, private and community not-for-profit management and direction of this. A neutral, trusted, independent facilitation is required to achieve this, and is something the Birmingham ODI Node and DEFT153 can offer. (The industry need for this solution was shared eloquently in the ‘Data as National Infrastructure Debate’ at HighwaysUK at the NEC in November 2017, highlights here).