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Calderdale open for business

Calderdale Council has launched a new web page giving residents and businesses access to local information that could make a difference to their lives and help create exciting new products and services.

The web page provides ‘open data’ – free information published in an accessible format with a licence that allows anyone to access, use and share it.

Perhaps you want to know the details of one of the Council’s contracts; maybe you’re a property developer and need to know where the empty buildings are in Calderdale; or you might want to find out the location of nearby schools. Now you can find all these details, and many more, in one handy place –www.calderdale.gov.uk/opendata – without having to make a Freedom of Information request.

The Council has a duty to be transparent and provide certain pieces of data. Through the new web page the Council can share as much information with the wider community as possible. The aim is to make it easier for people to find out how the Council works and responds to their needs, and to help them contribute to local decision making and shape services.

The Council also wants to create economic benefits. Businesses can use open data to find out local trends and develop new opportunities to respond to these, such as creating apps. For example, apps that tell you when your next bus is due are powered by data made freely available. Calderdale’s data about the location of public toilets has already been used in The Great British Public Toilet Map.

As one of the founding members of the Open Data Institute (ODI) Leeds City Region, Calderdale Council is ranked 2nd in West Yorkshire and in the top 70 councils in the country for its publication of open data, according to the Department for Communities and Local Government. It is working with other members to tackle shared challenges and solve problems that use or create open data.

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Business Improvement and Resources, Cllr Bryan Smith, said:

“The Council holds massive amounts of information. We want residents and businesses to benefit from this, so we’ve launched the new web page to make it easier to access and use. It will help us respond better to people’s enquiries and needs, as well as helping other organisations to meet their customers’ needs more effectively and innovatively.

“Over the next few months we will be publishing lots more of our own data, and providing a platform for other public, private and voluntary sector organisations to publish the data that they have about Calderdale, to provide a rich picture of our area.

“We’re keen for people to let us know if there are other pieces of information they would like to see, and if they have any ideas about how data could be used to benefit our communities and economy.”

A number of events are planned to bring together the growing open data community and hopefully stimulate new projects and ideas to improve services using open data. For example, ‘Wuthering Bytes’ – a week-long festival of technology in Hebden Bridge – is taking place from Sunday 26 September to Friday 2 October 2015. Run by local businesses, the ODI, Calderdale Council and the British Computer Society, the event will include public workshops and training on innovation and technology, and the chance to find out more about open data and how it can be used effectively.

The Council’s open data web page is continually being developed, and people are encouraged to get in touch with comments and suggestions – what can be improved, what other data would you like to see and how could it be used? Please email open.data@calderdale.gov.uk