Had a really good meeting on Friday morning with one of our Research Directors - Fabio Ciravegna who is cross cutting Director for Research and Innovation for The Digital World. Very enjoyable and interesting meeting - I love meeting academics who are passionate about their area of research, and of course it's one of the reasons we're here. We were interested how we might work together, and whether there were any areas to which we could provide additional help and support to. We identified two areas where which we're going to investigate further.
The first is the Digital Region Project - the first major deployment of superfast broadband in the UK which will be in South Yorkshire. We'll be looking at whether there are opportunities to leverage this to improve our services to the community and to provide opportunities for research.
The second which I think has huge potential is the whole area of linked data. This is a way of exposing, connecting and sharing data from multiple datasets and databases. The UK government has pledged to open up public data in this way, and the Cabinet Office Digital Engagement Blog announced some interesting timescales for the release of public data (including postcode and ordinance survey mapping data). Well worth a read. The question which we should perhaps be asking is - if the government are doing it, should we be doing something similar with call the data we hold? Suitably anonymised and respecting privacy and security implications of course. We hold so much which I'm sure could yield all sorts of interesting applications. Think of the amount of data we hold on students - from their postcode at time of admission, all the way through progression through their course, to the careers they choose. Or procurement and spending data.