Open Data Cities conferenceIt’s a rare pleasure when multiple elements of my interests intersect in one event. Pleasingly, that’s happening with next Friday’s Open Data Cities event.

10 years as a commercial property journalist left me with an abiding interest in our urban fabric, and specifically the planning, design and urban development approach, as much as the building developing and letting which was the bread-and-butter of the journalism I was doing. And that’s why this conference excites me so much –  certainly enough to cough up for the early bird ticket back in December.

Greg Hadfield, the conference organiser, has been arguing for more and more public data to come into the open, in usable, structured formats, so other bodies, be they private, public, charitable or journalistic, can dig into them and find ways of making our communities work better. And he’s pulled together a good panel of speakers to explore the issues.

The potential for journalism is obvious – if we have more information about our cities, we have more to analyse and compare. But honestly, my main interest in attending will be in finding out how to make our cities better places to live. Having more information in the public domain about how our cities are used, how are inhabitants use these spaces, interact in them, conduct business in them, can only help us make more informed decisions as we develop and redevelop them. One major theme that I see emerging this year is how we rework our towns in the light of the cyclical and structural changes (see posts passim). More brains working on more information can only help us get to more intelligent solutions.

Anyway, that’s my little bugbear, and I hope to catch up with some property people while I’m there to do a little brainstorming on the subject.

I’ll quote Greg on the bigger picture:

Emerging technologies are heralding an era of open-data cities – where data is used to build applications and services, to help citizens lead more creative and prosperous lives in more democratic and cohesive communities.

Hard to argue with…

Tickets are still on sale. If you’re interested in our urban landscapes, I think it’s a good investment of time and money. Plus: after event drinkies in Brighton on a Friday night are always fun. 😉

(And yes, I’ll be liveblogging it)