As the year draws to a close, and we start to make plans for next year’s activity, we also take the opportunity look backwards over the current year. This has seen us move from wholly online events, due to the pandemic, back to physical – or rather hybrid – sessions. In addition to our statutory report to OSCR which we will file soon, we also want to look at what our community has achieved over the year.
It’s clear to us, as it has been since our inception in 2014, that the success of our activity is at least as much attributable to those who attend and give their time as it is to our board’s oversight and leadership. We can run as many events as we are comfortable with but unless our supporters turn out, get involved, participate in activities and support each other, the impact will be minimal. That’s why as we recover from the pandemic and enforced distance from each other, it’s essential that we all make more of an effort to attend, to take part, and to donate our time, skills and knowledge to make a difference to local society.
We’re now firmly back at ONE Tech Hub (OTH) which is a great venue. We’re really grateful to Opportunity North East for the sponsorship in kind which they give by allowing us to host our events there.
We planned four events this year and ending up running three. While the numbers of attendees full justified running those three, they are well down on pre-pandemic numbers. This something we are keen to understand.
CTC25 – Creating and sharing openly
We started this year’s hack events in February with an online event. This hackathon attracted 19 people on day one and 13 on day two. They participated in four projects. The event page has links to the final presentation videos for each as well as to Github repos.
CTC26 – A new reality
This weekend in May saw 13 attendees on Saturday and 11 on Sunday attend the sessions. The physical event was back at ONE Tech Hub. We had three initial projects reducing to two. Please see the event homepage for more details.
CTC27 – Education
With 21 and 16 attendees respectively on Saturday and Sunday, this physical event felt like we were bouncing back from the pandemic. The attendees worked on four projects, which are captured in this YouTube playlist.
CTC28 – Connections
We had high hopes after CTC27 with numbers climbing from last year’s pandemic events and restricted attendances. But we were baffled why signups for CTC28 remained stubbornly low just a week before the event. Please let us now your views. We’d promoted it through the usual channels – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, several Slack groups, Mastodon and our newsletter as well as third-party sites. With just a handful of committed participants we took the decision to postpone it to March 2023. It was also doubly disappointing as we had just secured sponsorship from Converged Communication Solutions Ltd to covering catering costs. We’re so grateful to Neil and his colleagues there. And we’ll carry that sponsorship over to the first event of 2023.
Aberdeen Python User Group
The group held nine sessions this year, all bar one of those were at OTH all with good attendee levels and varying topics from guest or member speakers. We’ve been without a sponsor all year which is eating into CTC funds as we subsidise catering costs. If you know of a local tech company who may be interested in sponsoring the event please get in touch!
The third annual Scottish Open Data Unconference took place in November. This was the first physical manifestation as both the predecessors were forced online. While the number of attendees was lower than we’d aimed for (21 on the Saturday and 16 on the Sunday) we still saw 31 sessions run over the two days. You can download a PDF of notes from all sessions. One outcome was a statement which we issued following the weekend, setting out the importance of Open Data (OD), the current state of OD in Scotland, and what civic society needs from Government and other sectors to flourish as well as it does in other countries.
Aberdeen Data Meetups
The last of our formats to return post-pandemic were the ADM sessions. These are expensive to run and are heavily dependent on sponsorship to cover catering costs and more. We’re grateful to The Data Lab and ScotlandIS for their financial generosity and to ONE for their providing such as welcoming, friendly and professional space. The sessions re-started in October with the ever-popular showcase of MSc students projects over the summer, and continued for the rest of the year.
We had two changes to our board in November. Pauline Cairns who has been with us for a year stepped down with our thanks and best wishes for the future. Pauline had led some great work with RGU students and she will be missed!
We were also joined on the board by Jack Gilmore. Jack has been almost a permanent fixture at our events especially in the Open Data Scotland project which he has led with fellow-Trustee Karen Jewell. We’re looking forward to Jack’s input and energy in moving the charity on!
The Open Data Scotland project (born at a previous SODU event and developed over 4 or 5 hack weekends) saw three short-listings at the Open UK awards which took place on 31 November at the House of Lords.
The project was shortlisted in the Open Software category (against BBC R&D and another nominee!). Karen Jewell was short-listed for the Individual category for her work on ODS, and Jack Gilmore was shortlisted – and won!! – in the Young Person category. Well done, Jack and to Karen and all developers who have contributed so far to the project!
The year ahead
Thanks to all who turned out this year, got stuck into projects, volunteered to speak, or shared their enthusiasm and knowledge. You’re all heroes!
We look forward to a busy 2023. We’ll have the full complement of event formats to get involved in. We will welcome familiar faces back and new ones who come along for the first time. We couldn’t do it without you all! Have a great break over the festive season and see you in the New Year.