Data blog: Prague City Data Congress feedback

Like all of us, being cooped up in our home for a few years it was a bit weird to think about going to another city in the UK let alone a European country, but there I was ready to pack my bags and head off to the stunning city of Prague.

I was invited to conduct a keynote speech, take part in a debate and run a mini hackathon at the scaled back Prague City Data Congress which was still deep in Covid-19 restrictions in the Czech Republic’s capital.

The event was organised by Prague City Hall owned company Operátor ICT.

The talk shined a light on some of the barriers and issues community groups and NGOs face when it comes to using government open data and what mechanisms we can put in place to alleviate that.

The debate posed questions from the audience and online on how we can better integrate data into our society and what messiah can be done to better read data for social good.

But what we would like to talk about in this blog is the mini hack that we held as part of the festival and share the feedback from what the participants produced.

One of the biggest issues for governments and larger organisations who release data is getting more third sector organisations to use data for social good, but for some of these institutions they are unaware of this as they have never really looked to engage in these kinds of projects.

How do I know? Head over to any open data portal and look at it’s imagery, branding and language, it’s pretty clear who the target audience is, you’ll almost be forgiven for thinking they are corporate entities in their own right.

The workshop was mostly made up of Prague City staff, local decision makers and third sector workers.

I thought I’d share the raw feedback from the activities to see if there are any similarities to where you live and Prague.

For the first activity we asked the group what they would like community organisasion to do with the open data they released in a perfect world - we split a A0 piece of paper into 4 areas which was placed on the tables and participants were asked to fill out post-it notes.

Health:

Analyse health spending to help find optimisation of procedures
Seek out preventive health care proactively
Allow neighbourhoods to monitor nighttime noise and police activity to argue for better policy
Cultivate awareness access skills for the elderly

Environment:

Compare their towns environment to others (and brag about it)
Create new and innovative ways to raises issues of climate change
See what is changing in our green public spaces
Feel motivations to use less polluting tech - logistics for heating, transportation and etc

Jobs:

Create new jobs opportunities
Create intermediary platform for temporary jobs/full time work
Get more people to live in their town
Be able to find positions that are relative to my experience
Ask for fair pay when looking for a job

Communities:

Find available parking spaces
Allow social service NGOs to show impact of their work
Apps for public safety
Regularly discuss data in the community
Ask the city to provide services missing in the neighbourhood

Second activity:

To finish off the workshop the participants were asked if they were to put together a quickfire guide to how we can interest community organisations to learn more about open data, what would that be?

Direct communication with app developers
No open data but problems
Engaging with journalists with asking what they need
More events like The Prague City Data Congress
Show them excel data first and talk them through it
Reach out but only offer open data when it is relevant so they understand it better
Communicate on their channels (such as email newsletters that actually work)
Have an external person to facilitate workshops who is more community minded
Beautiful visualisations that better community data
Offer people financial incentives to run projects
Find practical use cases for the elderley and use them as ambassadors
Teach high school students how to use open data

While I was there, I also recorded a virtual talk for The Prague Creative Bureaucracy Festival which was really fun to do.

Prague is a beautiful city and you will most definitely find it welcoming, if you are interested in open data and learning some facilitating outlooks and techniques, I could not recommend attending a future Prague City Data Congress enough, you can stay up today with that, here.