Led by FutureEverything, in collaboration with the Future Cities and Digital Catapult, the Greater Manchester Data Synchronisation Programme (GMDSP) commenced in Autumn 2013 with a ground-breaking project to release linked open data across the region. The long term objectives of the programme are to develop collaborative interfaces between local government, business, citizens and civil society.

So far, the programme has been joined by Manchester and Salford City Council; Trafford, Stockport and Tameside MBC; the Fire and Rescue Service, and the Centre for Voluntary Organisation. Since starting, it has developed a variety of resources and toolkits based on newly released linked open datasets, and following linked data upskilling sessions, it has delivered new technical skills and peer support structures for local authorities.

The project’s objectives were met by deploying data experts, known as ‘Code Fellows’, to work with council staff to analyse, model, document and release data in linked format.

To date, government transparency and civic innovation have been a key driver of the open data movement. However, in recent years the debate has seen a drive to build scalable open data business models. It is with this in mind that GMDSP harnessed the knowledge of public servants, businesses and communities in determining outcomes and potential new services. This was achieved by coordinating a 6 month use-case project, consisting of SME and community engagement events, it consisted of five stages.

Data Release Workshop convened key council staff with members of the Future Cities and Digital Catapult to participate in a priority driven data release process; Open Data Demand Survey, aimed at open data advocates, developers, researchers, SMEs and other users of open data; Use Case Workshop focussed on open data use-cases and results from the recent GMDSP data demand survey to create new product ideas; Lean Startup Weekend, as part of FutureEverything 2015, brought together entrepreneurs, technologists, creative professionals and social innovators with highly skilled specialists to apply lean startup model to civic and city focussed service design process; and Development Sprint where throughout FutureEverything 2015, an team of UX Design and Development experts worked to further develop ideas from the Lean Startup Weekend, into a pilot product that they were exhibited at the FutureEverything conference.