We’re hosting a special Power of Data environmental and geospatial one hour webinar on June 16th. You can now sign up for tickets on our Eventbrite page and here’s a bit about our brilliant speakers and a brief outline of the talks they’ll be giving…

Abigail Page

Abigail is Head of Innovation and Skills for the Geospatial Commission, Cabinet Office; a former Chair of the Association for Geographic Information and a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Abigail’s presentation will be on Enabling Innovation to Unlock the Power of Location. In it, she’ll discuss the UK Geospatial strategy and share the approach…

This article is by Robin Gower, of Swirrl and Infonomics

We’ve been working on an R package for downloading and working with linked data: Linked Data Frames.

Image by Robin Gower

This tutorial shows you how you can use this package to download statistics from PublishMyData sites, along with rich descriptions of reference data for things like geographies and time intervals.

The library takes care of making SPARQL requests and interpreting the results, so you can get on with analysis and visualisation.

We’ve not submitted the package to R’s CRAN repository yet, so you’ll need to install the development version using devtools:


You then need to find a dataset using from…

This article is by Robin Gower, of Infonomics and Swirrl

Our last post explained the rationale behind CSVW. In this post we provide instructions for creating your own .​

We’ll work through an example. ​We’ll annotate a CSV dataset with CSVW metadata to accurately describe its contents.

​Let’s start with something simple.

​Data Mill North publishes a list of Grit Bins on behalf of Leeds City Council.

Data Mill North: Grit bin locations

​The first five lines of the CSV look like this:

Fortunately the page we got the file from tells us that the columns are:

  • location
  • easting
  • northing

We interpret “location” as an identifier for the spot where the bin is placed —…

This article is by Robin Gower, of Infonomics and Swirrl.

The CSV format has proven enormously popular in the open data world. Historically, faced by so much data being published in PDFs, the CSV format was a byword for machine-readability.

​It’s enduring popularity is no doubt helped by the fact that CSV files are near universally accessible. Practically everyone has access to a spreadsheet program — like Microsoft Excel — to read and write CSV files. Unlike Excel’s proprietary XLS format, the humble CSV is also easy to use programmatically — you don’t even really need to use a library.

​CSV does have some problems, however.

​Although the IETF published…

FT1000 logo
FT1000 logo

What a lovely way to start the week: we’ve been identified by the Financial Times and Statista as one of the 1000 fastest growing companies in Europe! As one of only 46 UK technology companies to make the cut this year, we’re thrilled to be included.

This is just a very quick thank you to all the people we’re working with in government who trust us to publish their data. Making data findable, understandable and useful is what we’re all about.

So thanks to the Scottish Government, the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government, the Government Statistical Service, the…

To make linked data publishing work it must be practical. Ongoing management of non-trivial collections of graph data by a team presents significant, real-world challenges around collaboration and change management. In this post I present a novel solution which has been implemented in Swirrl’s PublishMyData platform for the last 5 years . It’s a solution which provides collaborative real-time previewing and editing of any number of concurrent revisions, a publishing workflow, and authoring-by-API.

The problem

Even given the best tooling and technology, publishing accurate data is a demanding job. It is neither reasonable, nor practical, to demand authors get complicated data right…

Good design should hide complications. It will look simple and obvious but it takes a lot of work to boil down the hard stuff to get to that point. The COGS project, which we’re working on with ONS, includes a lot of complications. So this post is a short one about

  • The job pains COGS helps with
  • How we hide the complication so the user can use it
  • Why this is useful to government statisticians and analysts
COGS: A cracking idea

Job Pains

Before a data user can even start work, a lot of effort goes into getting data into a shape so that it can…

If you’ve wandered into this blog post expecting Jimmy Carr, then you may be disappointed. BUT if you’re the kind of person who’s interested in all things data, then here’s a quick rundown of stuff that happened with us at Swirrl in 2019 …

1. What rhymes with DOGS and stretches across the GSS?

COGS (Connected Open Government Statistics) — not to be confused with DOGS (like this) Image Source

No, not clogs — COGS. In the quest for comparable and interoperable data, we’ve been working with the Office for National Statistics on the Connected Open Government Statistics (COGS) project, alongside statisticians at DIT, HMRC, MHCLG, DWP and others. In 2019, the project got a new name, the ONS have been scaling up their team of…

We’re happy to be sponsoring Open Data Camp again, which heads to London the weekend of Nov 2nd and 3rd. In honour of the seventh edition of the camp, here are seven recent bits of data discussion which have caught our eye …

In at Number One

Image Source

The recently published Northern Ireland Open Data Strategy, is straight in at Number 1. The strategy runs from 2020–2023 and has four main themes:

  • Increasing the rate of publication and sharing of government information as open data
  • Promoting original, useful ways of using open data to show its benefits.
  • Engaging with the public sector to promote Open…

Don’t feel that you’ve failed if you haven’t done it ALL. Every incremental improvement is really critical so don’t try and boil the ocean. Pick off the easiest bit and tell your story because that’s how we’re going to get the movement to get behind you all and make it happen. — Siân Thomas, Chief Data Officer, Department for International Trade

Our Power of Data 19 event last week drew from experiences gained and thoughts on future needs, as well as practical discussions on the data ecosystem today. There was lots of engaged discussion, insightful speakers and the conversation had…

Sarah Roberts

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