Participants from Sheffield City Council, both Sheffield Universities, and local community organisations joined the Better With Data Society at the second of our series of three co-design workshops for the Air Quality+ open data project.
After the first workshop which focused on our air quality stories and the potential for open data to help tell them, this time we turned our attention to the datascape and how we might use combinations of datasets to drive ideas for products and services, policy and campaign initiatives, public engagement and behaviour change activities.
Understanding the Air Quality+ datascape
What we mean by the Air Quality+ datascape is the data that is relevant to the subject of air quality and surrounding issues in Sheffield. We start with the core air quality monitoring data: the sensor measurements of pollutants taken at 20 minute intervals from Sheffield City Council and DEFRA monitoring stations, and the annualised mean reading for nitrogen dioxide taken from the community network of diffusion tubes.
We also have data on the factors that contribute to air quality levels. This includes factors that have a positive or mitigating effect on pollution, such as data on trees or green spaces. It also includes data on factors that produce pollutants, such as the locations and monitoring results of regulated industrial processes, or data on highways and traffic. And it includes natural factors like weather conditions.
We have data on the consequences of poor air quality. Primarily this means data on public health and the incidence of particular conditions that are caused or exacerbated by poor air quality, such as asthma, respiratory conditions or cardiovascular diseases.
And finally, we have data and information that helps situate the rest of the data in context: the date on the infrastructure that collects air quality data, such as the location of monitoring stations, and qualitative information, stories published about air quality, data on policies and the policy framework in which Sheffield operates.
With an understanding of the datascape, we can begin to consider how might we connect datasets, either within the datascape, or bringing in other relevant data. For example, we might combine the industrial pollutants data on businesses with companies house data.
Playing the AQ+ Data Insights Game
The Air Quality+ project aims to support innovation, new insights, and new thinking by enabling the release of new open data and fostering collaboration. In the afternoon session, we broke into teams to play the AQ+ Data Insights game, putting together cards featuring datasets in different combinations to stimulate our thinking towards new connections, new projects and new possibilities for actions that address air quality and related issues in Sheffield.
The teams came up with 12 project ideas, some which focused on policy and insight (community involvement in bus and HGV route decisions, tree planting targets for mitigating pollution), some on behaviour change (shopping habits for better air quality and health), some practical action (green roofs on the NHS estate, establishing car sharing schemes), even one piece of arts activism (clamping petrol pumps and filling a forecourt with bikes).
As we work through the connections and explore the insights they throw up – understanding the likely users and shedding light on sustainable actions – the challenge is to make sense of them and figure out the opportunities and the collaborations that will enable us to deliver new projects, activities and actions.
Join us at the third co-design workshop on 13 March and the Hack and Build Day on 14 March where we turn our attention to developing responses to the hack day challenges and giving teams the best chance of walking away with one of four £250 prizes.