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District Renewal Workshop, 29 July at Sustainable Places 2016

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On the 29th of July, the NewTREND team participated to a workshop co-organised with OptEEmAL and ECODISTR-ICT projects. The District Renewal Workshop first introduced the overall approach of the projects (with Nick Purshouse, IES presenting NewTREND), to then move towards two roundtables: one on data integration and interoperability, where Walter O’Grady (UCD) presented the NewTREND data approach, the other on stakeholder interaction and Key Performance Indicators, moderated by Andrea Moro(iiSBE R&D) and with Giulia Barbano (iiSBE R&D) presenting the NewTREND Local Advisory Teams and KPI as a communication tool.

The workshop saw a lot of fruitful exchange of ideas among participants, which continued in the following days.

Here are some thoughts on data accessibility spurred by the workshop and penned by Walter O’Grady:

Freedom or Control in District Data

Given the choice people would always choose to be free instead of being controlled… right? Well it’s definitely the common consensus but is it the correct one and what has it to do with district data? This topic was indirectly discussed at the District Renewal workshop at the Sustainable Places conference in Anglet, France. It appears our (NewTREND) sister EU project OptEEmAL are using a different approach for their data management by putting all data in a format that allows computer programs to automatically understand what the data means without the aid of a human developer. It makes data very accessible and means people have huge freedom in how they use it. We (NewTREND) on the other hand, control our data. We define what subset of data is accessible and how it’s delivered. At first glance it seems that free data is much better because people are free to use it however they please. But how will they use it? People are predictable and use the same data in the same way repeatedly. Pareto’s Principle succinctly describes this. Basically saying that 20% of events occur 80% of the time including human choices. Think about your free choices. How many could be removed without having any effect on your life whatsoever?
So is freeing up 100% of district data worth the effort? Is freeing up only 20% of the data and using the remaining 80% of effort on providing the service too controlling? There is no right or wrong in this discussion but I’ll leave you with this. In many situations I want to be free to make my own choices but there are also many others where I’m happy that there is a highly qualified professional in control.

– Walter O’Grady, UCD

What’s your stance in this philosophical approach to data management? We look forward to keep this conversation going!