Twenty-fifteen to twenty-sixteen: a year in review.

I’ll always remember when I first met Lauren Currie and how in awe I was of this friendly, talented, inspiring, firecracker of a lady and the goal we shared to convince [some quite stony faced] police officers that their users were starting to move into the digital space, and that they should use social media and other platforms to engage with citizens.

Fast forward a few years and although I haven’t seen Lauren in some time, I follow the work that she does with great interest and adored reading her recent blog post: “Manchester to London: one year in review”.

Like Lauren, I turned 30 this year. Amongst the cliched list of ‘30 things to do before 30’ [I managed 22 of them: I still need to conquer my fear of spiders and get matching anchor tattoos with my dad], this has felt like a year of reflection, of change, of truly growing up, of developing myself and developing others.

I don’t want the experiences I’ve had this year to become distant memories. I know I have learnt something from each and every one of them; met new people who have taught me something about themselves (and myself); and travelled to new places I never dreamed I would. And so, inspired by Lauren, here is my October 2015- October 2016 year in review.

October 2015

I delivered two multi-million euro projects, OpenDataMonitor and DaPaaS with partners based across Europe.

Working on these two projects builds on the open data expertise I’ve been developing since 2008. I learnt much more about linked data, complex data architecture and infrastructure, ETL systems, measuring and monitoring data, metadata quality, harvesting and harmonising open data.

Other highlights managing these projects since 2013 include: creating open data communities across Europe which are being locally sustained, being interviewed by the Bulgarian local press, visiting Norway for the first time and experiencing long summer days as well as dark winter mornings and after-work snowboarding, running meet-ups with local universities, and [of course] meeting and working with colleagues from ATHENA, City of Munich, IFG.CC, Ontotext, Red.es, Saltlux, Swirrl, SINTEF, Sirma Mobile, Southampton University, SYNYO.

November 2015

I win the Bloomberg Open Technology Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) award, presented to me by HRH Princess Royal for my contributions to data and technology. [Earlier that evening I meet HRH Princess Royal, and when she tells me ‘open data sounds complicated’, I tell her its ‘fun, and is going to change the world’.]

I get promoted at ODI HQ and am responsible for delivering the open data and innovation strategies and programmes for Arup, Deutsche Bank, European Commission, Experian, Met Office, Syngenta, Thomson Reuters, World Bank.

December 2015

I participated in a Tech City roundtable, hosted at ODI HQ. The main focus of the discussion is around ‘What can Government do in the skills area over the next 10 years to create a digital society.’ I geek out about my ideas for data literacy for the civil service, incubating start-ups in Govt organisations, supporting secondments for civil servants in start-ups (and visa-versa), and local government/corporate sponsorship schemes.

February 2016

I visit Africa for the first time(!), and head out to Tanzania for a week with Fiona & Simon to meet colleagues from World Bank, Government, NGOs and tech incubators, to co-design a two-year open data policy and training programme to support their healthcare, education and water SDGs.

March 2016

Start contributing to the GODAN white paper: A global data ecosystem for agriculture and food.

I turn 30 and am whisked off for secret birthday celebrations in Barcelona. #luckygirl.

April 2016

I attended the PSI expert group in Brussels and present ideas on data infrastructure and peer-networks to the European Commission.

Co-delivered a workshop and training session on open data, leadership, policy creation and problem solving in Estonia with open data leads from Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.

I spoke at Girls in ICT day to enthusiastic 13/14 year olds on ‘How I got into technology’.

I judge a competition where those students pitch their app ideas to our judging panel and am later interviewed on what needs to be done to get more girls and women into science, engineering and the arts.

May 2016

I spoke at the Chief Fire Officer’s Association event: The role of the fire service in the smart city’.

I share my stories in developing police.uk and data.police.uk, discuss the data spectrum, data infrastructure and what an open future might look like.

Following the event, Neil Odin (Deputy Chief Officer for Hampshire Fire and Rescue Services) announces that ‘fire data will be open’.

Later in May, I co-facilitate an external innovation workshop with Syngenta, inviting partners from GODAN, supermarkets, local and central government departments, farmers and agri-start ups to explore ‘how to future proof our food supply’.

June 2016

After months of putting on a brave face through ill health, I am diagnosed with gallstones and need immediate surgery. I take three weeks off work throughout June/July.

July 2016

I return to work and dive straight into some much-missed delivery!

I co-deliver a two day workshop at the Inter-American Development Bank in DC on open innovation methodologies, frameworks and techniques. [I also spend my evenings going on poke-walks around DC and indulging in delicious all-American food]

The following week, I head out to Ukraine for a two-day workshop in designing and delivering the Open Data Challenge Series, lessons learnt from the ODCS methodology and the sustainability of the programme, its winners, finalists and other entrants.

Ukraine signed the Open Data Charter this year [October 2016] and are about to embark on a transformative open data, transparency and anti-corruption project with a number of partners. To be part of their journey feels like part of something very special.

August 2o16

After an intense week of learning, I become an ODI trainer, specialising in community engagement and open innovation. It’s definitely the rollercoaster ride everyone warned me about, but an incredible experience. Our cohort becomes the first (and only) to have a 100% pass rate.

I get invited to speak at TEDxUCLWomen. The organisers later decide not to include my talk this time. My team knew I was speaking, and I felt embarrassed to tell them that it won’t be happening now. At least this blog post does that for me. Years ago I made a promise to myself to learn as much from my successes and the work I deliver as I do from my failures and disappointments. It can feel hard in the moment, but that’s another reason why [for me] reflection is so important.

It is still a huge honour, and very humbling, to have been asked.

September 2016

I spoke at a Digital Catapult roundtable, ‘Hacked off with Hackathons’ [to share how I’m actually peeved, rather than hacked off], and share my experiences of running and participating in hack events and open innovation methodologies and frameworks.

I joined the open data communities board at DCLG.

Hosted a discovery workshop for on data infrastructure for the legal sector with Thomson Reuters, joined by law-tech startups, government departments, representatives from each stage of the CJS, *actual* lawyers, civil society organisations and [of course] our open data lord and saviour, John Sheridan.

October 2016

Headed out to Madrid for a week of talks, listening, delivery and networking at the International Open Data Conference (IODC).

Co-delivered a workshop on lessons learnt from the Open Data Challenge Series as part of the IODC pre-events.

Chaired my first panel on ‘open data portals: maturity, impact and sustainability’, joined by Tom Sasse (ODI), Wendy Carrera (Capgemini + EDP), Claire Foulquier-Gazagnes (Etalab) and Brandon Pustejovsky (USAID).

Join the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) arms length bodies (ALBs) stats board. Afterwards, an attendee tells me that my presentation on open data and data infrastructure was inspiring.

Design, leadership, open culture, data, ethics, justice. These are my personal thoughts on work.

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