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OpenDataSavesLives - more sessions and a new home

#OpenDataSavesLives logo
Credit: Amy Evans - ODI Leeds

We started the #OpenDataSavesLives virtual sessions at the onset of the national lockdown in the UK back in March. We weren't sure what we would talk about for each session, what kind of challenges would be brought to the surface, or even if these sessions would continue after the first few. The only thing we did know was that there would be other people like us - who want to help, want to create things to help others, want to understand the data - and that they would need a way to talk to us, and to each other.

So the #OpenDataSavesLives sessions were born. A loose community - of data scientists, local authorities, charity, third sector, health and social care - came together to talk openly about their projects and their challenges. As the weeks went on, each session took shape, either through communal input during the session or via people approaching us to share something specific with the community. Eventually a solid format was developed, allowing us (and others) to reach out to people to appear as a guest speaker and providing a structured session for attendees.

As of 19 November, there will be nearly 20 #OpenDataSavesLives sessions available to watch, alongside lots of associated resources from the many brilliant guest speakers that got involved. This is quite the milestone for something that was created quickly and evolved organically. #OpenDataSavesLives has demonstrated the power of working in the open and collaboratively. It has been especially relevant and important this year, and has provided a neutral place for people to gather, talk to others without barriers or judgment, and to share work with a view to progression.

ODI Leeds is a non funded, not for profit, independent organisation. Our sponsor led funding allows us to work on mission led projects exactly like #OpenDataSavesLives. As the project gained momentum, we knew that it would need financial and additional resource support for it to progress. A successful application to the Open Data Institute stimulus fund has given the project a boost, and provided us with access to a wealth of assets and a community of fellows. It has also given us the opportunity to delve deeper into the radically open methods that have made #OpenDataSavesLives a success and document them for others to use and learn from. We can already see a benefit as we use our learning from this series of events to amplify the discovery process and impact at a rapid rate for our next event series - #RadicallyOpenRecovery, focusing on the post-pandemic economic recovery.

Creating #OpenDataSavesLives may have started with ODI Leeds but very quickly like-minded partners helped this thing develop at pace. Beautiful Info has been instrumental to this, bringing specialist knowledge and experience in health and social care alongside a new network of speakers with unique perspectives. With their partnership, #OpenDataSavesLives now has its own home and has room to grow, becoming an indispensable resource for the future.

So what next for #OpenDataSavesLives?

The regular sessions have become a beacon for people who want to share work and find collaborators but there will always be more work to do. We want #OpenDataSavesLives to reach more people so that more great work can get the input it needs to succeed, whether that is looking for the right data or asking for help. We're not entirely sure what the future looks like for #OpenDataSavesLives, but we didn't know that at the beginning either and we've come this far. We hope you can join in and join us for the next steps.