Chi announces summer open data competition

Win a tea in the House of Commons with Chi

Chi is today launching her annual summer Open Data Competition.

Chi is Labour’s shadow Minister for Digital and Open Government and the first MP to publish constituency casework opendata.

The person who can use the data to create the best application or infographic will win tea in the House of Commons with Chi.



The data is an anonymised summary of a year of casework data uploaded here:

The closing date for entry is 1st October 2014.

Chi says:

“ Every month I publish pie charts summarising my casework so that my constituents can see

   why people come to me.  I’m sure there are better and more interesting ways of presenting  

   the data and by making it openly available I hope to crowd source a solution. But I also want

   to show that data can be shared safely and creatively and that open data should be the

   default for those in the public and private sectors.”

Open data is data that can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone with no requirements or conditions attached. Used properly, with proper concern for privacy, transparency and service design open data can be a powerful tool and reshape how government and citizens interact with each other.

This is why Chi holds an annual competition to try and raise awareness of what open data can do in the north east and beyond.

Chi believes that:

“  Digital Government using public or open data should empower people, not constrain them.

   The government’s sales of data to large credit reference agencies, actuaries and market

   research agencies has served only to constrain the options open to citizens and limit their choice.


“ Yet public data can empower people if used by innovators for social good.  A progressive

   approach would be for government to sit down with front line workers and data innovators

  and fund the building of data driven applications for public good.


–       Ends    –


Notes for Editors and Guidance for entrants

I realise that asking for an ‘infographic or application‘  makes the options very wide but I am looking for as much imagination and creativity as the data allows. I am happy for other (open) data to be included, for example someone might try to correlate certain casework with ambient temperature or air pollution…

The winner will be chosen based on the overall objective of sharing the data, which is to engage constituents with my constituency casework so that they understand better what I do as their MP, and more generally to promote the use of opendata. 

So we will ask the following questions as we judge the entrants:

•             How easy is it to engage with particularly for those who are not digitally literate?

•             How creativity does it convey the information about my casework?

•             How successfully does it inspire interest in the data specifically and/or the power of opendata more generally?

It is on the last criterion that an application might be more effective than in infographic but that is not necessarily the case.

Background to the data

•             I have two caseworkers (1.5 full time equivalents) and the data represents the cases they work on in a fortnightly reporting period. Most cases will be closed within a fortnight but complex ones may take longer and so may appear twice in a monthly dataset. An individual case can take between an hour (the minimum) and up to five to six hours though they will be outliers that take even longer.  A policy case can take between 5 minutes (for example a letter in response to  one of a batch of thirty or forty on the badger cull with exactly the same wording) and again up to five to six hours for complex policy questions, for example on  international tax havens. I am happy for you to make reasonable assumptions as to the distribution of the amount of time per case. Policy work will have more cases which take a short amount of time.  I will also spend time working on cases, particularly the more complex ones, so the total may exceed 1.5 FTE.

•             I do not believe any other MPs publish such data so I’m afraid there is no comparators at the individual or the aggregate level. Perhaps the results of this competition will encourage more MPs to do so!

•             Cases generally refer to an individual. We may be aware of other family members, for example in a child support case, but the case is referenced by the individual constituent who has contacted us.

•             I am happy to take feedback on what other data to capture to make future reports more interesting without over-burdening my staff.

•             Office enquires refers to more administrative calls to arrange an appointment or the delivery of documentation

•             Government departments refers to casework which is directed to a particular department such as the Home Office but is not on an issue frequent enough to be broken out separately like Education.


For more details on the competition, contact Mark Simmonds at



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