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January 10, 2012 / Jo Ivens

That’s it, for now

So a final post from me on DataBridge, certainly for the time being, as I get to grips with my new job as Chief Executive of Brighton & Hove volunteering charity, Impetus.  But, you’ll be glad to know, the work continues.

The final report on the DataBridge project highlighted 10 themes and made recommendations against each theme. Five of these were related to evidencing impact and the the commissioning environment, the other half were around the wider open data agenda and how the sector and local government could respond.

Brighton & Hove convenes a City Needs Assessment Steering Group which is made up of reps from the Council, the Clinical Commissioning Group, Sussex Police and representatives from the voluntary sector through the Community & Voluntary Sector Forum and the LINk. The group aims to improve local outcomes by leading a programme providing evidence based intelligence for local decision makers on the needs of the population of Brighton and Hove. For information about the steering group you can contact CVSF Policy Manager, Emma Daniel.

I have produced a brief summary of DataBridge issues, recommendations, feedback from stakeholders and actions. I will update from time to time on how we are progressing against these, especially in conjunction with both the work on City Needs Assessment and the development of Brighton’s Intelligent Commissioning programme.

Below you will find those recommendations in full. More detail can be found in my blog post on the final report, which breaks it down into chapters so you jump to Chapter 4 for recommendations for the local partnership and Chapter 5 for recommendations on open data.

Recommendation 1 – Monitoring info

  1. Streamline monitoring or contract management data required of the voluntary and community sector – a common monitoring framework that feeds systematically into commissioning cycle

  2. Voluntary sector to respond in terms of more standardised data formats

Recommendation 2 – Needs Assessment

  1. VCS data feeds systematically into needs assessment and the commissioning cycle

  2. More time needs for input from voluntary and community sector organisations

  3. VCS leadership to encourage proactive sector engagement in information sharing for needs assessment  

Recommendation 3 – Outcome Measures

  1. Support Advice Partnership bid to be a pilot area for developing national standards for outcome measures and use as a basis for wider local work on outcome measures

  2. Establish cross-Partnership work on defining outcome measures and trial on a commissioning round by round basis, starting with Financial Inclusion, to tie in with national work

Recommendation 4 – City-wide Data

  1. Improved communication on city-wide intelligence ambitions and how existing strands of work are aligned to each other

  2. Involvement of all relevant partners in development of city-wide data sharing building on VCS-led work on data-sharing between partners

  3. VCS work on data-sharing within the sector should be brought together

Recommendation 5 – Social Value

  1. BHCC makes a commitment to Social Value and sets out a clear way of implementing this into commissioning processes and decisions

  2. VCS work on defining and measuring social impact to be undertaken through Dialogue 50:50, building on previous work and existing skills within infrastructure organisations  

Recommendation 6 – Ambition on Open Data

  1. Clarify open data ambitions, including links to existing data sharing work

  2. Create links between sectors to use open data for service improvement

  3. Integration into other initiatives on City-wide intelligence

Recommendation 7 – Understanding of Open Data

  1. Create a useable, accessible local inventory of public data bearing in mind a range of users and levels of technical skill

  2. Build on Brighton & Hove Open Data List

  3. List the main data-sources held but not published

Recommendation 8 – Use what already exists

  1. Strengthen publication of data on local populations & promote this to VCS partners

  2. VCS to consider the open data agenda in planning infrastructure support for the future

  3. VCS infrastructure groups (and / or CLG) commission a support resource to help voluntary organisations better use existing data & research

Recommendation 9 – Opening VCS data

  1. CVSF partner in work on data platform, lead on how best feed in VCS data

  2. Commissioners & needs assessors to use all available data, including from new or non-traditional sources

Recommendation 10 – Wider issues on Open Data

  1. Engage “data users” more closely in the open data process

  2. Staged approach, more collective thought about making open data useful, including support needs

  3. Transparency of process as well as openness of data

December 6, 2011 / Jo Ivens

Boosting our Circulation

Yes, this is a terrible pun on the title of NAVCA’s information and policy briefing magazine for its members – Circulation. The reason being that I was asked to write an article for their Winter edition on open data and what this might mean for NAVCA members.

NAVCA is a membership organisation representing infrastructure organisations in each area of the country. Members are charities who provide support, development, professional advice, advocacy and representation services for other organisations in the voluntary and social enterprise sector locally.

In 600 words I tried to draw on experience in Brighton to set out some of the opportunities and risks for Infrastructure organisations, and actions they could take to get on top of this agenda and make the most of it.

NAVCA responded to the government’s Making Open Data Real consultation and you can read their response here:

Read the article on the NAVCA website:

December 2, 2011 / Jo Ivens

Yum, yum – lots of tasty data…

After a hectic month and a bit of a hiatus on the DataBridge blog, we’re back with a vengeance! This update contains the final report from OCSI on the work they did with local charity Amaze, who work with families of children with a disability. Below you can find the full report of what they did and their findings, and the full dataset to Lower Super Output Area.

The report sets out some techniques to help identify potential users, using public datasets and comparing with the charity’s own data. It uses visualisations to illustrate where the overlaps and gaps are.

2011 11 21 Databridge OCSI Amaze final report

You can access the full dataset here (excel).

Finally, Brighton colleague, Mark Walker, recently gave a presentation to SOCITM (the Society of Public Sector IT Managers) about how local authorities and the voluntary sector can work better together on intelligent commissioning, and the role of IT, technology and data. He talked about DataBridge as one of his examples, it was written up by the Microsoft UK Government blog and Mark’s slides are below.

November 14, 2011 / Jo Ivens

Finding public data – help is at hand!

One of the key findings of the DataBridge project was that groups we worked with often struggled to find data, even that which they knew was publicly available. DataBridge project partners, OCSI, have produced a short video illustrating how to use to find useful information.

Data4nr stands for Data for Neighbourhoods and Regeneration, and is run by OCSI on behalf of the Department of Communities & Local Government.

During the project, OCSI worked with local children’s disability charity, Amaze, to show how to use public data to better understand your beneficiaries, and potential beneficiaries. I’ll be posting the full Amaze work tomorrow.

For more information about please contact or look at

October 27, 2011 / Jo Ivens

Tips on using your own data

Our data analysis partners, OCSI, worked with one of the DataBridge groups, Amaze, on a project that shows how data held by local VCS groups can be  compared with nationally-published data, to identify  those areas or groups that are under-represented in the organisation’s work.

This is important to be able to show need and demand to funders or commissioners, to improve services or to reach a specific groups of beneficiaries, for marketing, for building networks and for advocating on behalf you users.

Download the presentation via the link below, or just click through the presentation:

DataBridge OCSI using your data

See more from OCSI at or @ocsi_uk on Twitter
October 26, 2011 / Jo Ivens

BNgeo – helping groups use their data

As part of the DataBridge project, the lovely Graham at OCSI created a tool for matching postcodes to super output areas called BNgeo.

Super Output Areas (SOAs) are a set of geographical areas developed to produce a set of areas of consistent size, whose boundaries would not change (unlike electoral wards), suitable for the publication of data such as the Census. They are used by central and local government in analysis, decision-making, and resourcing, so it is useful for voluntary organisations to be able to present their own information based on SOAs.

During the project  we saw that many groups have a great deal of data about their users and user needs, but it is postcode linked and difficult to map across to other units, such as SOAs. OCSI have developed a simple tool to enable groups to do this.

You can access BNgeo at and if you’d like to hear Tom talk through the postcode look up tool (2 mins) using the presentation below, you can watch that here – go to 17.34. Otherwise, you can just click through the slides below:

Visit for more from OCSI.
October 25, 2011 / Jo Ivens

Sharpies, pinched post-it notes and smiley faces…

Last Friday saw us presenting the findings and recommendations from the DataBridge project to an audience of voluntary sector, council health and university colleagues. The event was filmed by our nice friends at Public-i (webcast to follow shortly). Over the next few days we’ll post up the talks, presentations and resources that we shared on the day.

First up DataBridge recommendations with feedback

Ten issues / recommendations were presented to the group, who were asked to annotate, comment, graffiti their views:
Here’s the full presentation which has a little bit of background and context then the 10 issue/recommendation slides that are annotated above.  To hear about this in more detail, you can watch me give the presentation – go to 27.44 mins.