OCSI: 'Positive social and economic data is out there, we just don’t talk about it enough’

With the 2015 Open Data Awards just around the corner, we catch up with Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion, finalists for the Open Data Business Award.

The Open Data Awards celebrate innovation and excellence in open data across the world. Hundreds of inspiring people and organisations have been nominated across five categories, from social impact to publishing.

The awards will be held on July 9 at Bloomberg’s London offices on Finsbury Square. Explore all nominees and finalists and follow #ODIAwards for updates on the night.


Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion


Hi! How are you doing?

Hello there! We’re great thanks; lots of exciting projects on the go, an expanding team, summer has arrived, and we’re in Brighton. And on the open data front, Defra have announced 8,000 open datasets, and our Indices of Deprivation are due out in September. What’s not to like?

What do you, or your organisation, do in a nutshell?

We are a social research consultancy, harnessing the power of open data to support and improve public services. With both a strong research team and tech team, we are unique in creating innovative tools with open data, tailored towards the needs and challenges faced by the public sector and charities.

What first got you excited about open data?

We launched in 2004 to help organisations use data better – including Census2001, which was the first really big UK open data release. Over the past decade we’ve worked with 200+ public sector and charities, and it’s been fantastic to see people really making use of open data for better evidence-based public services.

What are your biggest data challenges?

First: analysing, interpreting and visualising data to help people solve problems and make the tough decisions they face in their organisations. Second: combining published data with ‘closed’ data held by organisations – open data is just the tip of the iceberg. Third: understanding the quality of the data available – and whether it’s appropriate to use.

What kind of open data would you like to see more of?

More local and up-to-date social and economic data that helps organisations better understand how their changing areas and the impact of their work. We know lots about the negatives, such as benefit claimant numbers, hospital admissions and children in care. But we know far less about the positives, such as local jobs & business growth and success of local projects.

How do you feel about being nominated for an open data award?

It’s fantastic recognition for the whole OCSI team, plus the public sector and charities we’ve partnered with. Over the last year we’ve worked on some inspiring open data projects, such as the government Indices of Deprivation and our Community / Local Insight tools. The nomination is a great boost for us to keep pushing the power of open data for better public services.

The Open Data Awards will be held on July 9 in partnership with Bloomberg at Bloomberg’s London offices on Finsbury Square.

Explore all nominees and finalists and follow #ODIAwards for updates on the night.