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Childcare at GovHack – how it was done

- August 22, 2015 in event, Featured, Melbourne

Childcare at GovHack – how it was done

- August 22, 2015 in event, Featured, Melbourne

Childcare room at GovHackThe Why
When we started the Open Knowledge group that meets weekly in Melbourne our goal was to make it as accessible as possible. We quickly realised that accessibility was hard. WIFI would be necessary or preferred. Week nights were probably the best option, sometime between 5pm and 9pm. Some people would like or need dinner, vegan and gluten free options would be necessary, a drink always makes these events more convivial. Disability access would be necessary. The venue would need to be queer friendly. Accessibility is hard – there are a lot of factors to take into account, and there seemed to be another accessibility issue to account for every time we talked about it. The 6-9pm time slot was never going to be parent friendly and there was little we could do about that. But it was the hardest of the criteria to meet in that meeting it radically reshaped our vision – weekends are unattractive for a regular meet, work hours are too, and in reality, no time is good for all parents, depending on number and age of children. Further, children friendly venues – potentially alcohol free, healthy food, safe play space – are hard to find, expensive to book, or too busy for a semi formal gathering, for exactly those criteria we were after. So we made a commitment to make GovHack as accessible as possible for parents. If we can’t make our weekly event family friendly, our annual flagship event absolutely would be, whatever the cost.
The How
I have connections to a child care centre, so I went to them and asked what they thought, what I would need, how many carers per child per age group, etc. We all know that getting expert advise is usually the best option, and for something that’s otherwise outside of our skill set, it’s essential. On their advice, I then rang the relevant Government department to see what the law was with regard to certification. A call to the City of Melbourne, in which I was bumped to three different departments and spoke with 4 different people, discovered that there were no municipal requirements. They eventually advised I speak to the Department of Human Services. After speaking to only two people at the DHS, the friendly Colin advised me that according to the Children’s Services Act 1996 (pdf), Part 1, section 5(1B)(g) “Non-application of this Act”, we were exempt from any particular regulation with regard to what we were required to provide by law. Because GovHack is an “ad hoc seminar”, it does not fall under the act. For clarity I asked some hypothetical questions and he consistently answered “you don’t fall under the act”. I asked if a dog could be used to mind the children and his response was “you don’t fall under the act”. As soon as we knew this, we contacted our venue hosts, the very generous ThoughtWorks, and let them know that childcare was go. We had warned them previously that this was something we were committed to and would be chasing – they were absolutely accommodating. I have no idea if they needed to make any arrangements with their building insurance, but they didn’t blink. Having a good relationship with your venue host is a boon. IMG_20150705_120630We made a commitment to paying our childcare staff the award wage – we wanted professional child care workers with accreditation and working with children checks, and we value workers as much as parents. But we also didn’t charge a fee. This was important to me – accessibility is as much about cost of a service as it is providing the service. I made a personal commitment to fund the childcare regardless of the uptake or sponsorship, to which the rest of organising group immediately agreed to kick into. Thinking it would cost about $1500 in wages, we asked for more to pay for extras like games, toys, and craft stuff. It ended up costing around $2000 in wages for four staff. We advertised that we were planning on providing this service early, and to the people we knew would help us spread the word to the target audience – Twitter, the Women in Science network, etc. It’s a pretty easy sell to get people interested, to be honest. The IT sector has taken a well deserved beating over the last four or five years about its prejudices, privileges and inaccessibility. All of which are embarrassing and solvable problems – but only if you try to solve them. I think that it’s important to show that you are serious for people to believe you, which was why we were committed to providing childcare regardless of interest expressed by the community. I think that next year the uptake on childcare will be even bigger – because people will have seen that we deliver, and the news will have got out further again. And in fact, not only have we fielded questions from other community IT groups (bravo Ruby Conf Au), but the state government informally expressed that anything to get more people involved in the local technology scene was something they could get behind. We were lucky – the State Government was one of our sponsors, and they fully funded the service (thank you very much DataVic!). It took some wrangling – they didn’t jump on board straight away, but we wouldn’t let them cut it from the budget/sponsorship package. In fact, it took up a large chunk of our budget – around a third. But we had also approached Microsoft to fund it, and would have kept chasing other potential sponsors had the Vic Government not come through – for the cost, it’s cheap advertising for any brand, and ostensibly good brand management given the issues the industry has faced noted above. turing
The Result
Before the event we had seven expressions of interest (we got more retweets than that!) via the survey, and three definite, maybe four via the ticketing question within Eventbrite – but that could have been the same group. I can count at least five occasions where one of the organising collective was in a discussion with potential attendees, data owners, sponsors, mentors, volunteers and other collaborators in which someone has said “but I’ve got kids, so that weekend…” and we have told them that we would have paid, professional childcare. People would always be surprised, shocked even. They look at you funny and say “Really?” and then you can see their mental cogs turning. All have been impressed. So that’s how you provide childcare. Finding the money is the hardest challenge, but since we were willing to pay that out of our own pockets, we just went ahead and organised it – build it and they will come. By the time the funders came on board we were already selling it to our community. Start the conversation early, start the process early, find some money. The community will back you up, have no fear. The guidelines/framework/rules we had were:

Service available from 9am-4pm on Saturday and 9am-3pm on Sunday – ie not the full days. But we also have venue curfews so that people get out of the building and we don’t need to find a volunteer for the 3am Sunday morning shift.

No care for children 0-2 years old.

Children 3-5/6 years old will have their own space in venue with room for 3-6 children – two carers.

Children 6/7-12 years old will have their own space in venue with room for 5-10 children – two carers.

We will be providing suitable entertainment as recommended by our childcare providers.

We would also ask for your understanding that when all places are taken, we will not ask our childcare workers to stretch themselves. Depending on levels of demand, first in best dressed is probably how we will run it.

Parents are expected to stay on site while their child is in childcare – this is not a drop zone for your shopping expedition.

In the end there was one child in care all weekend, and three other parents took advantage of the service for shorter periods over the weekend. A success. This was Zaya, the biggest and happiest user of the service. IMG_20150705_121704If you think making your event accessible takes too much hard work, you should try parenting some time, or read up on Spoon Theory. This was a relative walk in the park. Big thanks to the whole Melbourne Open Knowledge team for all their support making the Melbourne GovHack awesome, Thoughtworks for being very cool, and Jordan for always saying yes when I said “what if we did this?”. A large part of this text was written before GovHack in response to a question from Pat Allen – thanks for asking, I would never have written it down to remember if you hadn’t. This also accounts for potential problems with tense in some parts of the text.

Childcare at GovHack – how it was done

- August 22, 2015 in event, Featured, Melbourne

Childcare room at GovHackThe Why

When we started the Open Knowledge group that meets weekly in Melbourne our goal was to make it as accessible as possible. WIFI would be necessary or preferred. Week nights were probably the best option, sometime between 5pm and 9pm. Some people would like or need dinner, vegan and gluten free options would be necessary, a drink always makes these events more convivial. Disability access would be necessary. The venue would need to be queer friendly. Accessibility is hard – there are a lot of factors to take into account, and there seemed to be another accessibility issue to account for every time we talked about it. But, as we discovered, it’s not actually that hard – with a little consideration and some planning it is achievable – as Sarah, one of the Melbourne team, noted:
…it doesn’t come naturally to most people/organisers… but it’s precisely that change of focus in action and planning habits that seems to be baulked at the most. A lot of the time, it’s not impossible to do or to organise…(it) is totally doable, but hey, maybe it’s not something you’re going to remember easily when it’s not a constant factor in your own life/work! Once you re-train yourself/habits, it seems weird not to have done it that way in the first place… accessibility isn’t actually that difficult once you’ve made that initial effort.
The 6-9pm time slot we decided on was never going to be parent friendly and there was little we could do about that. But it was the hardest of the criteria to meet in that meeting it radically reshaped our vision – weekends are unattractive for a regular meet, work hours are too, and in reality, no time is good for all parents, depending on number and age of children. Further, children friendly venues – potentially alcohol free, healthy food, safe play space – are hard to find, expensive to book, or too busy for a semi formal gathering, for exactly those criteria we were after. So we made a commitment to make GovHack as accessible as possible for parents. If we can’t make our weekly event family friendly, our annual flagship event absolutely would be, whatever the cost.

The How

I have connections to a child care centre, so I went to them and asked what they thought, what I would need, how many carers per child per age group, etc. We all know that getting expert advise is usually the best option, and for something that’s otherwise outside of our skill set, it’s essential. On their advice, I then rang the relevant Government department to see what the law was with regard to certification. A call to the City of Melbourne, in which I was bumped to three different departments and spoke with 4 different people, discovered that there were no municipal requirements. They eventually advised I speak to the Department of Human Services. After speaking to only two people at the DHS, the friendly Colin advised me that according to the Children’s Services Act 1996 (pdf), Part 1, section 5(1B)(g) “Non-application of this Act”, we were exempt from any particular regulation with regard to what we were required to provide by law. Because GovHack is an “ad hoc seminar”, it does not fall under the act. For clarity I asked some hypothetical questions and he consistently answered “you don’t fall under the act”. I asked if a dog could be used to mind the children and his response was “you don’t fall under the act”. As soon as we knew this, we contacted our venue hosts, the very generous ThoughtWorks, and let them know that childcare was go. We had warned them previously that this was something we were committed to and would be chasing – they were absolutely accommodating. I have no idea if they needed to make any arrangements with their building insurance, but they didn’t blink. Having a good relationship with your venue host is a boon. IMG_20150705_120630 We made a commitment to paying our childcare staff the award wage – we wanted professional child care workers with accreditation and working with children checks, and we value workers as much as parents. But we also didn’t charge a fee. This was important to me – accessibility is as much about cost of a service as it is providing the service. I made a personal commitment to fund the childcare regardless of the uptake or sponsorship, to which the rest of organising group immediately agreed to kick into. Thinking it would cost about $1500 in wages, we asked for more to pay for extras like games, toys, and craft stuff. It ended up costing around $2000 in wages for four staff. We advertised that we were planning on providing this service early, and to the people we knew would help us spread the word to the target audience – Twitter, the Women in Science network, etc. It’s a pretty easy sell to get people interested, to be honest. The IT sector has taken a well deserved beating over the last four or five years about its prejudices, privileges and inaccessibility. All of which are embarrassing and solvable problems – but only if you try to solve them. I think that it’s important to show that you are serious for people to believe you, which was why we were committed to providing childcare regardless of interest expressed by the community. I think that next year the uptake on childcare will be even bigger – because people will have seen that we deliver, and the news will have got out further again. And in fact, not only have we fielded questions from other community IT groups (bravo Ruby Conf Au), but the state government informally expressed that anything to get more people involved in the local technology scene was something they could get behind. We were lucky – the State Government was one of our sponsors, and they fully funded the service (thank you very much DataVic!). It took some wrangling – they didn’t jump on board straight away, but we wouldn’t let them cut it from the budget/sponsorship package. In fact, it took up a large chunk of our budget – around a third. But we had also approached Microsoft to fund it, and would have kept chasing other potential sponsors had the Vic Government not come through – for the cost, it’s cheap advertising for any brand, and ostensibly good brand management given the issues the industry has faced noted above. turing

The Result

Before the event we had seven expressions of interest (we got more retweets than that!) via the survey, and three definite, maybe four via the ticketing question within Eventbrite – but that could have been the same group. I can count at least five occasions where one of the organising collective was in a discussion with potential attendees, data owners, sponsors, mentors, volunteers and other collaborators in which someone has said “but I’ve got kids, so that weekend…” and we have told them that we would have paid, professional childcare. People would always be surprised, shocked even. They look at you funny and say “Really?” and then you can see their mental cogs turning. All have been impressed. So that’s how you provide childcare. Finding the money is the hardest challenge, but since we were willing to pay that out of our own pockets, we just went ahead and organised it – build it and they will come. By the time the funders came on board we were already selling it to our community. Start the conversation early, start the process early, find some money. The community will back you up, have no fear. The guidelines/framework/rules we had were:

Service available from 9am-4pm on Saturday and 9am-3pm on Sunday – ie not the full days. But we also have venue curfews so that people get out of the building and we don’t need to find a volunteer for the 3am Sunday morning shift.

No care for children 0-2 years old.

Children 3-5/6 years old will have their own space in venue with room for 3-6 children – two carers.

Children 6/7-12 years old will have their own space in venue with room for 5-10 children – two carers.

We will be providing suitable entertainment as recommended by our childcare providers.

We would also ask for your understanding that when all places are taken, we will not ask our childcare workers to stretch themselves. Depending on levels of demand, first in best dressed is probably how we will run it.

Parents are expected to stay on site while their child is in childcare – this is not a drop zone for your shopping expedition.

In the end there was one child in care all weekend, and three other parents took advantage of the service for shorter periods over the weekend. A success. This was Zaya, the biggest and happiest user of the service. IMG_20150705_121704 If you think making your event accessible takes too much hard work, you should try parenting some time, or read up on Spoon Theory. This was a relative walk in the park. Big thanks to the whole Melbourne Open Knowledge team for all their support making the Melbourne GovHack awesome, Thoughtworks for being very cool, and Jordan for always saying yes when I said “what if we did this?”. A large part of this text was written before GovHack in response to a question from Pat Allen – thanks for asking, I would never have written it down to remember if you hadn’t. This also accounts for potential problems with tense in some parts of the text.

Childcare at GovHack – how it was done

- August 22, 2015 in event, Featured, Melbourne

Childcare room at GovHackThe Why

When we started the Open Knowledge group that meets weekly in Melbourne our goal was to make it as accessible as possible. WIFI would be necessary or preferred. Week nights were probably the best option, sometime between 5pm and 9pm. Some people would like or need dinner, vegan and gluten free options would be necessary, a drink always makes these events more convivial. Disability access would be necessary. The venue would need to be queer friendly. Accessibility is hard – there are a lot of factors to take into account, and there seemed to be another accessibility issue to account for every time we talked about it. But, as we discovered, it’s not actually that hard – with a little consideration and some planning it is achievable – as Sarah, one of the Melbourne team, noted:
…it doesn’t come naturally to most people/organisers… but it’s precisely that change of focus in action and planning habits that seems to be baulked at the most. A lot of the time, it’s not impossible to do or to organise…(it) is totally doable, but hey, maybe it’s not something you’re going to remember easily when it’s not a constant factor in your own life/work! Once you re-train yourself/habits, it seems weird not to have done it that way in the first place… accessibility isn’t actually that difficult once you’ve made that initial effort.
The 6-9pm time slot we decided on was never going to be parent friendly and there was little we could do about that. But it was the hardest of the criteria to meet in that meeting it radically reshaped our vision – weekends are unattractive for a regular meet, work hours are too, and in reality, no time is good for all parents, depending on number and age of children. Further, children friendly venues – potentially alcohol free, healthy food, safe play space – are hard to find, expensive to book, or too busy for a semi formal gathering, for exactly those criteria we were after. So we made a commitment to make GovHack as accessible as possible for parents. If we can’t make our weekly event family friendly, our annual flagship event absolutely would be, whatever the cost.

The How

I have connections to a child care centre, so I went to them and asked what they thought, what I would need, how many carers per child per age group, etc. We all know that getting expert advise is usually the best option, and for something that’s otherwise outside of our skill set, it’s essential. On their advice, I then rang the relevant Government department to see what the law was with regard to certification. A call to the City of Melbourne, in which I was bumped to three different departments and spoke with 4 different people, discovered that there were no municipal requirements. They eventually advised I speak to the Department of Human Services. After speaking to only two people at the DHS, the friendly Colin advised me that according to the Children’s Services Act 1996 (pdf), Part 1, section 5(1B)(g) “Non-application of this Act”, we were exempt from any particular regulation with regard to what we were required to provide by law. Because GovHack is an “ad hoc seminar”, it does not fall under the act. For clarity I asked some hypothetical questions and he consistently answered “you don’t fall under the act”. I asked if a dog could be used to mind the children and his response was “you don’t fall under the act”. As soon as we knew this, we contacted our venue hosts, the very generous ThoughtWorks, and let them know that childcare was go. We had warned them previously that this was something we were committed to and would be chasing – they were absolutely accommodating. I have no idea if they needed to make any arrangements with their building insurance, but they didn’t blink. Having a good relationship with your venue host is a boon. IMG_20150705_120630 We made a commitment to paying our childcare staff the award wage – we wanted professional child care workers with accreditation and working with children checks, and we value workers as much as parents. But we also didn’t charge a fee. This was important to me – accessibility is as much about cost of a service as it is providing the service. I made a personal commitment to fund the childcare regardless of the uptake or sponsorship, to which the rest of organising group immediately agreed to kick into. Thinking it would cost about $1500 in wages, we asked for more to pay for extras like games, toys, and craft stuff. It ended up costing around $2000 in wages for four staff. We advertised that we were planning on providing this service early, and to the people we knew would help us spread the word to the target audience – Twitter, the Women in Science network, etc. It’s a pretty easy sell to get people interested, to be honest. The IT sector has taken a well deserved beating over the last four or five years about its prejudices, privileges and inaccessibility. All of which are embarrassing and solvable problems – but only if you try to solve them. I think that it’s important to show that you are serious for people to believe you, which was why we were committed to providing childcare regardless of interest expressed by the community. I think that next year the uptake on childcare will be even bigger – because people will have seen that we deliver, and the news will have got out further again. And in fact, not only have we fielded questions from other community IT groups (bravo Ruby Conf Au), but the state government informally expressed that anything to get more people involved in the local technology scene was something they could get behind. We were lucky – the State Government was one of our sponsors, and they fully funded the service (thank you very much DataVic!). It took some wrangling – they didn’t jump on board straight away, but we wouldn’t let them cut it from the budget/sponsorship package. In fact, it took up a large chunk of our budget – around a third. But we had also approached Microsoft to fund it, and would have kept chasing other potential sponsors had the Vic Government not come through – for the cost, it’s cheap advertising for any brand, and ostensibly good brand management given the issues the industry has faced noted above. turing

The Result

Before the event we had seven expressions of interest (we got more retweets than that!) via the survey, and three definite, maybe four via the ticketing question within Eventbrite – but that could have been the same group. I can count at least five occasions where one of the organising collective was in a discussion with potential attendees, data owners, sponsors, mentors, volunteers and other collaborators in which someone has said “but I’ve got kids, so that weekend…” and we have told them that we would have paid, professional childcare. People would always be surprised, shocked even. They look at you funny and say “Really?” and then you can see their mental cogs turning. All have been impressed. So that’s how you provide childcare. Finding the money is the hardest challenge, but since we were willing to pay that out of our own pockets, we just went ahead and organised it – build it and they will come. By the time the funders came on board we were already selling it to our community. Start the conversation early, start the process early, find some money. The community will back you up, have no fear. The guidelines/framework/rules we had were:

Service available from 9am-4pm on Saturday and 9am-3pm on Sunday – ie not the full days. But we also have venue curfews so that people get out of the building and we don’t need to find a volunteer for the 3am Sunday morning shift.

No care for children 0-2 years old.

Children 3-5/6 years old will have their own space in venue with room for 3-6 children – two carers.

Children 6/7-12 years old will have their own space in venue with room for 5-10 children – two carers.

We will be providing suitable entertainment as recommended by our childcare providers.

We would also ask for your understanding that when all places are taken, we will not ask our childcare workers to stretch themselves. Depending on levels of demand, first in best dressed is probably how we will run it.

Parents are expected to stay on site while their child is in childcare – this is not a drop zone for your shopping expedition.

In the end there was one child in care all weekend, and three other parents took advantage of the service for shorter periods over the weekend. A success. This was Zaya, the biggest and happiest user of the service. IMG_20150705_121704 If you think making your event accessible takes too much hard work, you should try parenting some time, or read up on Spoon Theory. This was a relative walk in the park. Big thanks to the whole Melbourne Open Knowledge team for all their support making the Melbourne GovHack awesome, Thoughtworks for being very cool, and Jordan for always saying yes when I said “what if we did this?”. A large part of this text was written before GovHack in response to a question from Pat Allen – thanks for asking, I would never have written it down to remember if you hadn’t. This also accounts for potential problems with tense in some parts of the text.

Melbourne does Mapping for GovHack

- May 25, 2015 in Melbourne

The amazing host of our gathering, Olga, wrote this up about last week’s meet: On Wednesday, the 20th of May, Steve and Matt gave a great workshop of open source mapping tools available to suit all of you, mapping enthusiasts’, needs. If you have some data associated with a specific geo-location(s), this workshop would be a great way to learn how to plot it on a map. In a nutshell, the evening provided an overview of two different mapping tools. Both do need some knowledge of web development and both can be used for free. CFb8wiPVEAEWCHP The first one is easy to work with for all of you, not very techy people. The mapping tool is called CartoDB. It can be obtained for free, but be wary the free version is the most limited one. Their website provides a lot of tutorials and examples. Also, Steve has gracefully presented how easy it can be to plot your data on a map using CartoDB in real time. The second tool is for those with a bit more web-development knowledge, called LeafletJS. It is an open source javascript library for mobile-friendly interactive maps. It is quite easy to use and it has great documentation. There are plenty of examples provided as well. I would recommend to play with it even if you are not very tech savvy – take a look, challenge yourself to learn something new and exciting. In any case, I am sure if you have any questions on how to user those tools, the peeps from OKFn who have the knowledge will be happy to help.

Coder Grrrlz talk to us about GovHack Municipal Data

- May 15, 2015 in event, Featured, Government data, Melbourne

Ruth

Ruth presents the data from the City of Greater Geelong

Alisha

Alisha presents her work from the City of Melbourne

Rosie present the City of Ballarat data

Rosie present the City of Ballarat data

  This week’s OK Melbourne saw Ruth, Alisha and Rosie spoke to us about the data sets that are coming out of the Cities of Melbourne, Greater Geelong and Ballarat for the upcoming GovHack. There looks to be some very rich data coming out of each of the sites, with both interesting cultural and geographical data, some lighter census data as well as the usual tough stuff – fines, roads, parking. Each of the cities will be presenting a range of prizes, the City of Melbourne will hopefully also be hosting a 3D printing micro site – raising the question “how would you use City of Melbourne data in 3D printed form?”. Jordan also gave greater context to GovHack – what our aims and goals were with the project, what other data sets would be available, what project we expected and wanted to see come out of the weekend.jordan_govhack Next week is the Mapping workshop with our own Steve Bennett and we have confirmed Andrew Phillips from Splunk as a speaker at the June 10th workshop. Finally, a short reminder that the Melbourne GovHack team are very keen to provide child care at this year’s GovHack, and if that’s of interest to you they ask if you could take their four question survey about what type of child care service you would want.

Shut up and Hack; GovHack planning

- May 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

Another week of Shut up and Hack saw lots of industry at the Melbourne meet up. The night started with Ri Liu giving a short presentation about her recent trip to Colombia as a finalist in a data visualisation prize for her work on Close the Gap – if you are interested in DataVis, check it out – it looks gorgeous, Ri has a great vision when it comes to presenting data. For those interested in working on data visualisation regularly, Ri has started a weekly Thursday night DataVis meetup. After this we broke into very focused groups – three in particular focusing on Open Street Maps and the Nepalese earthquake, the Temporal Earth project and PTV data.
GovHack planning
Later in the evening a few of us started talking about the plans regarding the upcoming GovHack – mark July 2-4 into your calendars. In the lead up to GovHack, Open Knowledge Melbourne will be hosting a different introductory workshop on a number of the technologies available that we think are the most useful for an event like GovHack. May 6th Scott Ludlum is talking about the Open Economy project that analyses the budget data. May 13th The Code for Australia Fellows (the Coder Girrrlz Ruth, Alisha and Rosie) will be presenting what they have discovered in their work with the three city councils they have been placed with (Melbourne, Geelong, Ballarat). This should be considered an in depth “Meet the data owners” event. May 20th Steve, Matt and Lachlan will be talking Maps, mapping software and mapping tools – CartoDB (great for creating data, gather data, quick visualisation) and LeafletJS for mobile friendly live maps. May 27th More Mapping and some Data Manipulation software. Steve will talk about TileMill and we will discuss tools like Google Refine, csvkit, and the JSON query builder jq June 3rd More Data manipulation – Pandas and R – two very useful tools for splicing and dicing large data sets. Like Excel on steroids, with nice Pythonic languages.

June 10th Systems Administration – a very short introduction by Matt and Lachlan to the command line, ssh, and git. Teaching the most useful 5-7 commands for each – just enough for someone who needs a virtual machine on the weekend. We may also teach openstack if that’s a possibility. Refresher from previous week

June 17th Data visualisation, Ri Liu presenting on D3 and GovHack/HealthHack regular Fred Michna presenting Tableau. June 24th Meet the data owners – the more general event including Victorian government agency representatives. July 1st Will be dedicated to last minute questions and organising. July 2-4th – GOVHACK

Public Transport Victoria release data in GTFS format

- April 1, 2015 in event, Government data, Melbourne

This week’s Melbourne meet was very much focused on the news this week that Public Transport Victoria have met their goal of releasing the timetable data in the General Transit Feed Specification, or GTFS. GTFS was originally specified by Google but has quickly become a defacto standard across the world. PTV already provides some timetable through a restricted timetable API. Since this data set rarely changes – it’s not a live dataset, but the static, day to day timetable data – it makes more sense to have it all available. And now it is – you can grab it from data.vic.gov.au. (Mac users will need to download 7zip – the command line unzip doesn’t work apparently) Neil from PTV gave a quick explanation of the processes they are going through with the Google team to get the data integrated into Google Maps – a process that may take 3 to 6 months. There is also a push for better live data from trams and buses in the near future. The work they are doing at PTV to open their data is excellent and we can’t congratulate them enough for their efforts – and for listening to the community. In the meantime, we can have at it. There were a couple of teams looking into getting the data into already existing open source apps to deliver a quicker service than that provided by Google, and at least one attempt to do a holistic analysis of service by suburb analysis. Expect to see some of those results here over the next few weeks. We were also lucky enough to informally find out about a new temporal map of Australia with some funky data sets from newcomer Matt – look out for his presentation on April 29th about what he’s done and how he got his data. And Steve showed off opentrees.org, a map of council-managed trees in Victoria, created by combining 7 different council open data datasets.

Shut up and Hack, 25 March

- April 1, 2015 in event, Government data, Melbourne

This week there was definitely hacking, and more than a bit of yacking. New people and regulars, were in part of the crowd.

Playing with words

A few weeks ago, there was a presentation on the data that has been made available by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC). They have released the data that has been reported by more than 40,000 registered organisations. This is data set contains a mix of data types – text, numbers, booleans, and not all records are complete or clean. The text components of this ACNC data set were an opportunity to try out an online word cloud generator, tagxedo.com. This is similar to wordle.com, with more controls to use on the text data. Before doing anything with text, especially free text, it needs to be cleaned. Cleaning text involves removing common words (stop words) and grouping words with common stems (stemming and lemmatisation) – and take up a lot of time with not much to show for it. [Stopping, stemming and lemmatisation are all component of natural language processing algorithms. This is a whole area of study within many universities.]

What is a word cloud and why use one?

A word cloud is a visual representation of the text data – the text is broken into individual words, the frequency of each word is displayed in different colours and/or sizes. The display of any analysis results is usually a table and a chart. Open any annual report, white paper, government report, research paper, article, or thesis – tables and charts galore. A word cloud will add interest to an otherwise boring report – particularly when it is difficult to add a photo or image. It will stand out from other assignments, other reports, other presentations.

What’s in a name?

Below is a word cloud analysis of the names of the charities, created using tagxedo.com. This shows the most prevalent words that are in the names of the charities. Notice that the words appear in different sizes, this indicates how often the word appears – more frequently appearing words are larger. charity_names_wordcloudThe stopping and stemming process was performed by tagxedo.com. The word list was cleaned further by removing some additional words like, ‘St’, which would not add value. The number of words to appear was restricted to the 100. This was easily configured in the word | layout options menus. The name of charities can also include a description of what they are or do. The word cloud shows that a large number of schools and churches are charities; different christian denominations can be seen. Foundations, associations, trustees and trust also feature amongst the most frequent.  

How much do charities and not-for-profits care?

This next word cloud was generated from the activity description information provided. howcharitiespursuedtheiractivities_wordcloud_2This word cloud show the top 200 words used by charities and not-for-profits to describe how they pursued their main activities. After tagxedo.com removed stop-words, additional words were removed, (e.g. ‘including’). So, how much do charities and not-for-profits care? Not as much about activities, services, community, education, people, meetings and support.

Resources

https://data.gov.au/dataset/acnc-register http://www.tagxedo.com http://www.wordle.net/ Sally Pryor @pryor365

Melbourne OK Weekly

- March 5, 2015 in event, Government data, Melbourne

Last night Ross Gillott from the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission joined us to explain their dataset. It was a very interesting presentation, there is so much potential in the data they have. After being separated from the ATO in 2012, the data that the ACNC was provided was scrappy and poorly kept. They have implemented a new reporting regime – which they admit can be onerous for small organisations, 60% have no paid employees – to improve that data. Given the infancy of the organisation, the data is still quite rough, but at close to 60,000 organisations registered, there is a rich collection available. And as both sides grow more accustomed to each others’ ways, that data can only become more accurate. The sector covered by the ACNC employs 8% of the Australian workforce, not including volunteers, and worth $100bn, which is why it is considered important that these statistics are gathered. All the data ends up on the old trusty data.gov.au, the ACNC providing two main datasets, the longitudinal Registered Charities and the new Annual Information Statement that each charity needs to complete. Almost everyone sat down to have a go at the datasets after the presentation, with ideas ranging from topical analysis of self-reported function of each charity, longevity versus size, mapping of type versus geolocation, mapping of total donations received versus ATO data on average income per suburb, and more. Not a lot came out immediately, as the data did need a lot of cleaning but Andrew showed how easy it is to import data into Splunk and get almost immediate mapping results. I’d imagine we will see some more small analyses coming out as the weeks progress. Big thanks to Ross and the ACNC for coming out and talking to us.