London City Hall

I was pleased to be invited to present at City Hall yesterday. The Greater London Authority's Intelligence Unit assembled a great lineup of speakers to talk about "Visualizing London" and I was lucky enough to be included in their ranks.

The seminar took place in the main chamber and, looking across Foster's extraordinary interior to the capacity audience from the same seats that Ken or Boris might hold court, it was hard not to feel a little daunted.

After recapping some dataviz essentials, I gave a whistlestop tour of how the Guardian deals with government data, describing how a bunch of unassuming spreadsheets from the Treasury were transformed into an award winning newspaper graphic and then an interactive tool that allowed readers to make their own budget.

Following my talk, Emer Coleman rounded up some of the GLA's own data projects. The popularity of the Boris Bike data APIs is clearly testament to how much value the public gets from this kind of investment. That said, I was concerned to hear her recommend that departments should all hold hack days in the expectation that loads of developers would turn up and build great things for free. On one hand, I suspect hack day fatigue may soon set in amongst the UK development community. On the other, it's important not to confuse a 24hr sketch with a finished piece of software.

Finally, two chaps from UCL took the floor and described some of the amazing work being done at CASA. Some great projects were profiled and it reminded me how beneficial it can be to step outside of the news and take a longer form approach to working with data.

A PDF of my talk can be found here.