Inside the head of a designer

Data – changing our behaviour
May 2, 2011, 6:45 pm
Filed under: interesting, opendata | Tags: , , , , ,

I’ve recently been adding thoughts, material and presenting in London as part of the ‘Making a difference with Data’ campaign.  The initiative is campaigning for good, open data that can be used to shape our society.  A bit more about the campaign;

“The Making a difference with data project has launched a new website, which will play a key role in realising its aim to spread understanding about open data and transparency in local public services. says it will show how citizens can use information obtained from public authorities to campaign and influence policies and decisions that affect local communities.

It is encouraging people to get involved by sending information, case studies, links to stories, participating in online and offline forums, responding to blogs and following the project on social media.

In line with the government’s policy for public authorities to become more open and transparent, the project aims to raise awareness about how individuals and organisations can obtain information from organisations including the police, NHS and local councils.” –

Tidy Street

Tidy Street

I was inspired to see a new project called ‘tidystreet’ kick off (via Good).  A Uk Neighbourhood in Brighton,  is recording their electricity use and recording it in the form of a giant inforgaph on the street.

“Each day the participants’ electricity usage over the previous 24 hours will be marked; and each week participants can choose to add another comparison line that will show how their electricity consumption compares to another region in the UK or even a different country. We hope that the residents, in collaboration with a local graffiti artist, will produce an engaging artwork that will stimulate the street and passersby to reflect on their electricity use.”

So far, energy use has been cut by 15% on the street prompting me to think about how we could visualise and project crime information into local communities.  What effect would it have?

Looking back at the Oakland Crime Map which provides (just about) real time data, it is a shining example of a good, comprehensive data set that can be used to provide real time interaction with the city.  Just as the joy of stats programme had shown the creators driving down the streets and the relationship of topography from higher up areas – less crime, to visible aesthetic change in the environment on the lower level streets and higher crime levels, how could we begin to embed data into our everyday lives.  Would knowing an area had high levels of knife crime stop you from walking down a street or make a community want to gather together and fight the statistic?  Could it bring together local authorities/gov/police to make environmental changes to the surrounding area, perhaps a bigger recognition of environment, re-designing and planning areas as opposed to spending money in treating problems as they happen?

Food for thought, but again I am going back to how we can use data to look at effecting change in the everyday.  It begs questions about how data can be accessed and interpreted into useful information for communities and the public to use.  Over the next month I’ll be posing more of these questions, and looking at existing data sets, their positives and negatives within the field of crime and justice.  To cap off you can listen to some of my thoughts after the London conference recorded by Nicky Getgood on how design and context can help make data useful in people’s lives.