Open Data Scotland at the OpenUK Awards 2022

Karen Jewell
4 min readNov 29, 2022

Tomorrow, Jack Gilmore and I will be in the House of Lords, representing Open Data Scotland at the OpenUK Awards 2022, for nominations in 3 categories: Software, Young Person and Individual.

It’s going to be a real pinch-me moment.

When we first heard about the awards, we thought we’d maybe get a nomination, one would be nice. To be shortlisted in three categories is insane. This is what we’re up for:

Software

The entire opendata.scot project is open source, using a mix of python and other tools created for open source: it is hosted on Github pages, pipeline triggers on Github actions, frontend by JKAN, and all costs a tiny £130 to run per year. The project is completely volunteer-built and maintained, and we encourage amateurs and hobbyists to build integral parts of the service because it is a service for community, built by the community. What started as a google sheet, is now an automated service which updates every Friday with the latest open data available in Scotland. We currently list 1500+ datasets, the largest collection of this scope we know of, with 700+ people using the service per month.

It’s for all these reasons, we’re shortlisted in the Software category, and this nomination is for the 40+ people who helped build opendata.scot over the last year in every idea, code commit, and suggestion.

Young Persons

A lot of what makes us nomiable for the Software category is because of the work done by Jack Gilmore. Jack led the effort on adopting JKAN, on creating the pipeline refresh in Github actions, in creating automated slackbot updates for the dev team. Jack did so well in understanding JKAN, that he now contributes to the original JKAN project revived out of its 2-year dormancy.

But the nomination is also in recognition of his tenacity in taking the lead with challenges, in being a generous mentor to the learning contributors at Open Data Scotland, and for his work to other open source projects including the OpenWasteMap project and a public covid tracker.

Jack Gilmore presenting Open Data Scotland at SODU22

Individual

It’s difficult to write about your own achievements without coming across as boastful, but the reason why my picture made the shortlist is because I am the project gel, the sticky stuff which keeps all the components together.

I made the 4-quarter milestone plan which formed the backbone of our development work and moved opendata.scot beyond proof of concept into a functional service for public use. I am the undisputed chief ticket-issuer. I run a lot of the project outreach and comms. I coordinate the volunteers, clear the barriers, and review the python PRs (because Jack doesn’t work in python!). I shapeshift into whatever is needed to edge the project forward. Yet I think the most important thing I do, is to make sure opendata.scot can run without me, or any of us, so that this valuable service doesn’t suffer the curse of the abandoned side project.

I also started the movement of working on opendata.scot on trains across the country which may actually be my biggest contribution.

The gift of nomination

Even if we win nothing tomorrow, we’ve gained so much. Sure, the awards are a great way to recognise and celebrate our achievements. But to be shortlisted in the OpenUK awards, was to give the Open Data Scotland project the gift of credibility, an expert edge.

It gives us a platform to shout from and share the good work being done in the Open Data space in Scotland, and it gives us the opportunity to meet others who are doing similarly great work in their own areas, to share and learn from their stories too.

We know that tomorrow’s awards aren’t the celebrations of the pinnacle of our work, but only the mere start of many more exciting open movements to come. But it would also be nice to win something 😜

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