An internet entrepreneur called on politicians, officials and business leaders to turn Brighton and Hove into Britain’s first “open data city”.
Greg Hadfield issued the challenge last night (Tuesday 8 February), urging politicians from all parties to commit to the idea before the local elections on Thursday 5 May.
Mr Hadfield said: “We can build a city where it’s easier, faster and better to do business, where we have more and better information about education, transport and health that’s useful to people in Brighton and Hove.
“We can get it on the agenda first and make the fastest progress with it.
“It doesn’t always have to be about New York, San Francisco and Lichfield.”
Mr Hadfield is the director of strategic projects at Cogapp, the digital media business with offices in Dyke Road, Brighton.
He set out his ideas about making information more freely available at the first meeting of the Brighton and Hove Open Data Group at the Quadrant pub in Queen’s Road, Brighton.
At the Quadrant about 40 people took part in a discussion about which types of organisation and what types of information might be involved.
The organisations ranged from public sector bodies – such as Brighton and Hove City Council, Sussex Police and Brighton and Hove City Teaching Primary Care Trust – to charities and voluntary sector groups.
Examples of information included the location of the nearest available taxi, special offers in local shops or which hotels and B&Bs had vacancies.
Other examples included environmental information, entertainment listings, housing data and crime figures.
Mr Hadfield said that the aim was to widen the net beyond the self-professed geeks who would use their talents to make information available in useful formats and helpful applications.
It should, he said, broaden choice even in the less well-off parts of Brighton and Hove.
Some of the ideas will be explored further at the next Open Data Group meeting at the Quadrant on Tuesday 8 March.
Some are expected to be touched on at City Camp Brighton which is being held in the city from Friday 4 March to Sunday 6 March.
The event is part of the City Camp movement which started in Chicago last year and brings together local government, business, community groups and academic institutions.
It is being held at the Sallis Benney Theatre in Grand Parade, Brighton, and at Hove Town Hall.
A spokesman for the event said that City Camp would be three days of inspiring speakers, discussions and workshops, “re-imagining the way the web, technology and participation will shape the future of our city”.
The spokesman said: “We’ll be hearing inside views of the city from local leaders and getting inspiration from experts on social innovation and open data, discussing problems and launching new ideas.”
The foundation was set up by the multi-millionaire businessman Rod Aldridge, who went to school in Portslade where the community college is also about to become an academy.
In the meantime a campaign is continuing to persuade Brighton and Hove City Council to publish online and in one place all the by-laws in force in the city.
The campaign has been running on the E-democracy website’s Brighton and Hove issues forum.
The full set of documents is, according to the forum, available only at the Jubilee Library in the North Laine, Brighton.
Green councillor Jason Kitcat said that he would try to rectify the situation.
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