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Leeds Data Mill expands into Data Mill North

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09 Aug 2016

The Leeds Data Mill is being expanded into a regional open data platform for the north of England.

Named Data Mill North, the new platform is being positioned as part of the effort to develop a ‘Northern Powerhouse’, former Chancellor George Osborne’s vision for an economic ecosystem in the region, and should draw on data from local authorities beyond the Leeds base.

Stephen Blackburn, publisher of the new platform, says it should provide richer data for digital communities and has called on councils in the region to look at sharing data that could be reused for new services.

The Leeds Data Mill website has already been replaced by that of Data Mill North, and City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council has begun to use it as a repository for open data, reflecting its location within the same urban conurbation as the platform’s founder Leeds City Council.

Blackburn adds that there is a move to develop standards for the publication of data.

Datasets and dashboard

The original platform was set up by Leeds in 2014, supported by £100,000 from the Cabinet Office, to bring together reusable public information from across the city. It now includes 315 datasets and has provided data for a number of projects, such as the Leeds City Dashboard that provides a selection of data on the city.

The most recent project has been the development of a prototype smartphone app for information on bin collections.

The move provides extra momentum for the open data movement, pushing one of the higher profile initiatives in local government into a wider arena.

“We hear a lot about the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ and I think by and large it’s still to be defined what the phrase actually means,” Blackburn says. “As far as I’m concerned digital is clearly a massive part of everything we do in future.”