Easing your digestion of Open Data? Resources for the Food Open Data Challenge
The Open Data Institute (ODI) and Nesta are running a competition all about food. Can you develop a product or service which will use open data to help people:
eat more healthily;
eat more sustainably; and/or
have a more secure food chain?
We have shared some resources to help you come up with innovative, relevant and potentially £40,000 prize winning ideas.
There’s a User Research Report focused on the challenge question. UsCreates interviewed a broad range of consumers, producers and retailers to inform their 56 slide report. It includes typical user journeys and personas and even ideas for apps direct from the users themselves which you can interpret and develop.
The food challenge has attracted a lot of interest from a community of entrepreneurs, budding innovators and people who have opinions about food. However the open data element of this competition has proved to be a stumbling block for potential entrants. The rest of this blog is designed to ease your digestion of the open data available to you.
To help you access the relevant open data we’ve put together a data guide listing 48 datasets which lend themselves to answering our challenge question. Note, you are not restricted to using the datasets that we have shared, you are welcome to use any open data that you think relevant. The only caveat being that your product or service must use a minimum of one open dataset from a Government source.
Data guide - a Word doc designed to help you understand what the datasets contain.
Data quality indicator - a spreadsheet that rates the quality of the data we’ve prioritised in our search.
What’s the quality of the data?
The quality of the datasets is pretty high with the majority sourced from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) with a few other datasets from the Food Standards Agency (FSA), Marine Management Organisation, the Office for National Statistics and the Environment Agency.
The ‘Local Authority Food Law Enforcement returns’ (from the FSA) is the highest quality of the datasets we looked at, with the ‘Statistics on obesity, physical activity and diet’ coming a close second (from NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care). Both these datasets would be best placed used in a product or service designed to help people eat more healthily - however, it’s worth considering the challenges of using data to drive behaviour change if you are planning to work in this area.
Linking the data to the challenge?
To give you a sense of what can be done I’ve matched a few datasets to the different aspects of the challenge question:
How can we use open data to help people eat more healthily?
The UsCreates research suggested ideas such as ‘something to help people identify which products might be cheaper to buy from markets’ and ‘better information about how what you eat affects your body and well-being’.
You might want to start with:
Commodity Prices from DEFRA - Prices for selected agricultural and horticultural produce are published on a weekly or monthly basis which could potentially be used to set a benchmark price to enable people to make better purchasing choices.
Family Food Statistics from DEFRA - in which data is collected for a sample of households in the United Kingdom using self-reported diaries supported by till receipts of all purchases, including food eaten out, over a two-week period.
How can we use open data to help people eat more sustainably?
Ideas were put forward by the consumers, retailers and producers in the UsCreates research which included - ‘using open data to provide better understanding of seasonality’ and ‘accessible information that communicates the carbon footprint of food.’
If you are thinking of responding to this part of the challenge question, perhaps look at:
Farming statistics from DEFRA to give consumers a sense of what foodstuffs are produced in the UK - it includes statistics on agricultural land use, crop areas, crop yields, crop production, livestock numbers and the agricultural workforce in the United Kingdom.
Overseas trade in food, feed and drink - annual statistics on the value and quantity of overseas trade in food, feed and drink. ‘Self Sufficiency Ratio’.
Fruit and Vegetable Wholesale prices from DEFRA - a weekly publication which gives the average wholesale prices of selected home-grown horticultural produce.
How can we use open data to help people have a more secure food chain?
Ideas from the people interviewed by UsCreates included ‘using open data to enable improved knowledge and understanding of food safety both within and outside of the home’ and ‘ways of achieving better food safety standards’ so you might want to think about:
Food Statistics Pocketbook from DEFRA - the annual food statistics pocketbook provides a concise round-up of statistics on food covering the economic, social and environmental aspects of the food we eat.
Local Authority Food law enforcement returns from FSA - summarises local authority activity in relation to food law enforcement at food establishments. It includes summary statistics on the numbers of inspections conducted as well the outcomes of these inspections.
If you feel inspired to run with any of the above ideas please make your entry before Monday 27 October on Collabfinder.
For more inspiration in terms of product and service ideas take a look through the UsCreates user research and peruse the Food Open Data Challenge Hackpad. Add your thoughts there particularly if you have an idea that you aren’t planning to submit - as someone else might adopt it!
What are the rules for using open data in the ODCS?
In a previous post, I outlined what we do and don’t encourage you to do with open data. This post was designed to help you strengthen your open data proposition and ensure you score high when assessed at each stage. When you are ready to post your idea on Collabfinder (before the 27 October deadline), it is absolutely essential that you include hyperlinks to the open data sources that you plan to use.
Any questions please email our food challenge champion [email protected].