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ODI Leeds & The Emergent Alliance

ODI Leeds was very pleased to be asked to become one of the founding partners for the Emergent Alliance, which was established only 6 weeks ago with the purpose of helping people and organisations recover from the unique challenges of the pandemic. It is not a 'closed group' and the alliance welcomes new members who share similar goals.

In simple terms, we are working with partners, large and small, to map the recovery of the economy as it emerges from the impact of COVID-19 - and were doing it with Open Innovation and Data.

I supported the establishment of the Alliance and have also been leading the Data Workstream. This blog post sets out how we expect the workstream to work and how Data will be accessed, used, and shared inside and outside the alliance.

We expect things to change and for everyone to join in, collaborate, and share. There are three themes that we will blend in the Emergent Data workstream. These will guide us all in how we progress:

  1. We will be Radically Open
  2. We will treat our Data as Infrastructure
  3. We will use the The Data Spectrum

Radically Open

This is an approach and way of working that ODI Leeds has developed over the past seven years which you can see demonstrated in our activity at

At its most basic, this means using the web as it was designed to be used. To be clear this does not mean publishing all data openly (see The Data Spectrum below) but it does mean that we are #RadicallyOpen so that we create the largest surplus possible for our work. People can 'reach in' when they are ready to, and the work is searchable on the web so we can make the largest impact we can with the resources we have.

What does this mean?

  1. Publishing information about what we are doing on the web - with story blogs, technical blogs and repositories for data and code - and links back with attribution so that people can find our data and content on the web.
  2. Use what already exists - If we want to map and present in the open we use Open Street Map. If we have insights or information to share it goes on a website (probably on our own websites and linked to the Emergent website). If the documentation or clarification can go on Wikipedia we use that.
  3. Share early - share often - receive feedback (positive & negative), which means we can iterate quickly and move at pace.

We expect that all of the Alliance will publish, use, and share data and that they will all join in with our decentralised, federated approach, no one needs permission to do anything - provided that it fits with the Mission and Vision.

Data As Infrastructure

The concept of treating data as infrastructure is one that we will be using in this project, in its wider sense this concept is explained at a strategic level on the ODI website.

In the context of the Emergent Alliance, we will keep these principles in mind as we collaborate to bring datasets together, address challenges, use and remix data to build prototypes, create digital services, and/or deploy solutions and or platforms.

The Data will be brought together on this 'data hub'.

The Data Spectrum

The data we will be accessing, using, and sharing in the Emergent Alliance will be a mixture of open, shared, and closed datasets. This infographic from The ODI will help you understand where data you are using or wish to share sits within the spectrum of Open, Shared and Closed Data.

The Data Spectrum
Credit: The Open Data Institute

The hub-page allows you to share information and URLs about the data we are using and sharing.

For data that is currently available we can catalogue and link to it using the hub-page - we really need everyone to help crowdsource this data, so please do join in and help us build the best catalogue we can.

For new datasets that Alliance members bring, these can either be published openly using your own websites or an open platform, such as Data Mill North, and linked to using the data hub-page. For secure or private datasets, Microsoft and LIDA are working to bring us a secure data and analytics platform. More detail is coming soon.

So what does this mean? Well it means that if you are part of the Alliance, we'll be expecting you to join in, contribute, and be helpful and friendly. In terms of Data, we're expecting everyone to help us find data, publish data, and use data to help us all navigate through the COVID-19 crisis.

Join in it will be fun.