Public Services > Local Government

Camden launches its Open Data platform

David Bicknell Published 23 March 2017

London borough’s platform hosts over 300 datasets as open data pioneer looks for new ways of using information it holds to benefit local residents


The London Borough of Camden has formally launched an open data platform featuring over 300 different datasets.

The launch coincided with an ‘Open Data challenge’ event attended by  over a hundred coders, developers, designers, programmers and data enthusiasts to look for new and innovative ways of using data for the benefit of Camden residents.

Camden's data platform features up-to-date information on everything from parking bays and planning applications to housing stock and road accidents. Residents, businesses, community groups and others can all access the data in several ways, depending on their need.

The borough’s Open Data site has had 1.7m page views since it was first trialled in 2015. Significantly, Camden has many times the number of datasets per head of population than London as a whole on the London Datastore (the GLA’s data site).

Camden, with a population of 220,000 has 305 datasets. London as a whole, with a population of 8.5m, has 702 datasets.

Camden argues the platform establishes it as one of the leading authorities in the country on public data and is the practical result of Camden's Open Data Charter launched in November 2015. It includes datasets on council activities including spending on contractors, parking, planning applications as well as trees, housing repairs and assets of community value. Residents and businesses can also request specific datasets if they are not already there, for example, recently added data around traffic accidents by area.

Councillor Theo Blackwell, Cabinet Member for Finance, Technology & Growth at Camden Council, an advocate of open data in local government, said, “Camden as a borough hosts world class tech sector so it's right Camden Council should be a leading digital council.  In 2015, we became an open-by-default council where dataset would be published unless there was a compelling reason not to.  Our platform has built up a huge store of clean, accessible data for public benefit.  The data available on Open Data Camden has the potential to improve the everyday lives of local residents and we want to unlock this potential to improve public services just as its driving value in the digital economy."

Camden has used open data to create a new planning e-mail alert system and to add planning applications to its customer account.  It said, “We were able to do this quickly and at low cost because open data is so easy for programmers to reuse. These apps have contributed to a £200,000 saving to the planning service’s budget by reducing the number of letters its sends to residents about planning applications.”

Open Data Camden is powered by the Socrata open data platform. Doug McLeod, Socrata director for the UK said, “The way Camden Council has chosen to share the information in hundreds of its internal databases with its residents and businesses is impressive. Dozens of Camden Council datasets are updated every night automatically, and immediately made available to the community. Hundreds more are updated monthly or more regularly.

"Camden probably publishes more real, live data than any other UK Council and probably any other similar size government anywhere. Of even greater interest are the ways this data will be used to help reduce the costs of keeping Camden residents actively participating in the running and improving of Council services, and overall cost-reduction efforts.”

Sudip Trivedi, Camden’s head of data & analytics, said “We've had a fantastic response to the open data challenge and hope that it will be the first of many. We’re excited to be working with the developer community to make a real difference for the residents, communities and businesses of Camden”.

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