View of Dundee

This piece has been written to complement the Service Design Scotland event taking place on 9th November 2020. Event details available at (

Some years ago, I set up an innovation group for staff in a Scottish council. I was excited about the opportunities this might bring for the organisation to develop new approaches to delivering services!

At our regular meetings we would focus in on different tools to help improve services and, most essentially, to listen more to our communities.

I had recently attended the Scottish Government’s Service Design course which I was keen to share with this group…

FireStarter Festival 2020: Liberated Structures event

Unusually, (actually for the first time), I have written a series of poems to mark the Liberating Structures learning event that took place on 6th February 2020 in Edinburgh. I am often a reactive writer and realised at the start of the day that this particular practice lends itself both to reflection and collaboration, with rhythms and patterns that lend themselves to poetry.

I welcome feedback.


Early light.
Guides map the way,
Sharing directions.
Scouts pass their
message along,
follow the edges and cracks,
the contours of practice.
Gold learnings gleaming…

Its DataFest week here in Edinburgh. Following last year’s very successful inaugural event the Data Lab is hosting Data Talent and Data Summit events as well as a number of satellite events. An exciting range of fringe events are happening around the country, kicked off at the weekend, and a general data buzz is in the air.

This is fantastic to see and be part of. It is demonstrating that Scotland has a vibrant data community, a thirst to use data both for business growth and social good, as well as encouraging new job opportunities to develop this data world…

In my last post, I talked about the need to take a holistic view of data. If we managed our data more effectively, open data delivery will be more efficient. This means seeing data that we create and manage as being part of a wider ecosystem that incorporates open data.

In the most basic sense this can mean understanding the data life cycle — creation, management, review, updating and, eventually, deletion. However, this needs to be expanded by adding a process that starts with either the creation of a data set, or if it exists already, use of a data…

I’ve been working in the field of open data for almost 5 years now — I can’t actually believe this myself, but it’s true. When I started, Open Data was already a snow-ball speeding down a giant mountain, gathering followers, new data and case studies. We’ve seen some amazing uses in the UK, Europe and globally, changing people’s lives all over the planet.

There are lots of Google searches you can do to learn more, and to understand why making data more accessible and transparent is just common sense.

My journey started with a light bulb moment and a belief…

The curved ball

After attending the Data Lab`s Data Festival last week, which included a Data Talent event aimed at employers and students, the Data Summit (over two days) and a range of Fringe events, the value of data in Scotland is clear. There is also major growth happening and a thirst for opportunities in a variety of areas including business, research and urban living.

I was also impressed with the quality of speakers at the Summit. Each one painted a picture of data possibilities, ranging from informing health research and patient care, global use for social good, Using predictive…

Having recently attended the Data Science Research day at the University of Edinburgh, I wanted to share some initial thinking on what was shared there.

The day began with an insight into the Data Science Centre for Doctoral Training from Charles Sutton, the Deputy Director. It is no surprise to hear about the rapid expansion of their Centre, nor the impact of Data Science as an industry — the lack of professionals to meet the huge market demand is well known. It’s also very clear that realising the value of data is driving business development and growth in the private…

I attended the NE UK Open Data meet up in Newcastle last week which was hosted by NE Data (through the Federation of Small Businesses for the NE) and took place at Campus North, which offers space for start-ups, hot-desking and events.

I was there to speak about Edinburgh Council’s work with open data, alongside two other speakers — Lisa Clark from North Tyneside Council and Catherine Johns from Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence North East. Talks are available through the NE Data website (see right hand column) .

Lisa used the opportunity very much to engage with the local…

Open Data Scotland (6th and 7th November 2015) — Team Advocate

We’re one of the teams who took part in Open Data Scotland’s Saturday workshop.

Much of the conversation throughout the Open Data Scotland event raised the same issue — how do you empower open data advocates so that they can make strong cases for sharing and publishing data sets. …

Open Data Scotland (6th and 7th November) — Team Data

This blog post has been compiled by the team, I’m just the publisher!

Have you ever analysed data without full knowledge of all of the original data sources and how they mesh together? Or have you ever meshed together several disparate and messy datasets? I know I have and often it’s a time consuming procedure that requires a lot of homework and sometimes, some very big judgement calls. At the “Open Data for Scotland” event last weekend, we worked on the process of what happens when someone is working to…

Sally Kerr

Digital, data & innovation, arts, communicator, founder of @EdinburghApps, co-founder @EdiLivingLab. French Horn playing for fun.

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