As far as projects go the Greater Manchester Data Synchronisation Programme is quite a mouthful. But the name represents precisely what the programme is. The ambition is to design processes and methods that will allow public sector organisations to identify, transform and release data as linked data in synchronisation with each other. For the most part we will refer to it as GMDSP.
There are many challenges to achieving this and many times the programme has been described as ambitious – which we have come to realise is a euphemism for risky, challenging or crazy. This would be true if this was a top down project, but our work through the Open Data Cities programme has ensured that the processes and methods created are ones that are based upon the needs and desires of the partners Manchester City, Salford City and Trafford Councils themselves.
It was identified prior to the initial design of the programme that one of the main obstacles for the release of open data, let alone linked open data were around capacity rather than willingness to release data. To this end GMDSP concentrates on building capacity within the organisations themselves through adding extra personnel (Code Fellows), building mechanisms for the transfer of skills, creating support structures, creating common infrastructure and also validating the process through positive exposure to the external digital community.
The design of the programme is constantly being updated as new challenges and opportunities are discovered, and the programme is a collaboration in the truest sense. The relationship with the participating local authorities isn’t bound by contracts or SLAs, but by trust. If at any point the programme failed to be responsive to the needs of participants then they could just walk away. So maybe the people who describe the programme as ambitious are right – watch this space because this project is going to get interesting.
Head of Innovation Projects