Can open Heritage and Culture data help create a more open and diverse sector?
At the beginning of November we launched the Heritage and Culture Open Data Challenge at the ODI Summit. The question we’ve asked teams to engage with is - how can we use open data to engage more people, and more diverse people, in UK heritage and culture?
We’ve been reflecting on potential ideas for this Challenge and thought we’d set some out as inspiration for anyone who is looking for a jumping off point. As we’ve been developing the Open Data Challenge Series, we’ve been looking to develop ways to ‘open source’ some of the initial research and insight work that teams might want to undertake - Briony has recently blogged about the relevant data sets we’ve identified and we have also made available some user research which goes into more detail about the user needs in the area.
So think of this as a free ‘brain dump’ of areas for possible exploration in response to the Challenge question. We should say that we can’t take credit for all of the ideas below as many have come up as part of the stakeholder work we undertook in developing the challenge question.
Before going into these in detail we also wanted to highlight some motivating factors for choosing this specific challenge question and how this motivation shapes the potential ideas we might see in response to it. We hope that looking to use open data to engage more, and more diverse, people in UK Heritage and Culture can neatly tackle two dynamics in the sector at the moment.
- Firstly, the challenge we’ve set out responds to a strategic pressure in the Heritage and Culture sectors which is the result of shifting, and in many cases declining, funding for organisations. In order to attract the new revenue streams which are therefore needed, Heritage and Culture organisations are either looking to engaging their existing audience with a more varied offer, or they are in the situation where they are trying to engage new audiences with their current offer, or more ambitiously, with a completely new offer.
- Secondly, we identified a clear need amongst users who aren’t currently heavily engaged in the sector for greater information about Heritage and Culture experiences. We hope that through using open data released by these organisations, teams can develop new products and services help these organisations appeal to new audiences both bringing in new people as well as hopefully bringing in new funding streams. This means that we welcome ideas from teams who are targeting both individual citizens attending heritage and culture exhibits/institutions and those who are providing a service or product for the institutions themselves.
In terms of potential areas where teams could develop products these could include:
- Apps for those who are marginally interested - the user research which was undertaken for us by UsCreates highlighted a number of segments (based on research from the audience agency) of people who could potentially have products and services designed to attract them to current offerings. These could be:
- apps which are targeted at specific user segments - drawing on their particular interests and personal profile to identify relevant opportunities
- products/services which are incorporated into broader services which help to serve their broader needs (e.g. “things to do” services).
There are already a number of ‘what’s on’ style apps and websites so the challenge to participants is to explicitly target those people whose needs aren’t already served, and whose interest is not peaked by the provision already available.
- Services to help institutions bring their content to an audience beyond the four walls of the museum or gallery - with the cost of travel and time being a significant barrier for some users, participants in our stakeholder research have suggested that an opportunity exists to bring heritage and cultural content into school classrooms and people’s living rooms through a new product or service.
- Products to enable greater opening of content by heritage and culture organisations - a number of tools already exist to help organisations release their data but the restrictions of available resource, conflicting priorities and challenges of internal politics often stand in the way. Our stakeholders have queried whether there is an opportunity to bolster the investment these organisations make in opening up their content through a service or product that makes this process easier.
- Insight services driven by open data analytics - As well as audience/consumer facing opportunities, there could also be opportunities for teams to develop data driven products/services for heritage and cultural organisations to give them insight into what their audience wants. This sort of service is common in other industries, such as the retail sector, and could pull in data both from the organisations themselves but also other open dataset such as demographic information etc.
These are still very high level thoughts and teams would need to dive into the detail in order to create credible products for the Challenge. There are also further ideas for areas of development in the user research which we conducted. Some of these areas are going to provide more or less credible entrants to the Heritage and Culture Open Data Challenge on the basis of where there is higher value open data available. All entries must take into account the judging criteria for the Open Data Challenge Series.
If you have any other ideas which you’d like to float for people to develop as part of the Challenge please add them directly to the list of ‘ideas for adoption’ on our Hackpad or if you’d like to participate, add a project on our Heritage and Culture Collabfinder group.
The deadline for applications to the Challenge is midday, Monday 9 February 2015.