SODU 2022

The Scottish Open Data Unconference (SODU) is back for a third year.

Since our inception in 2014 Code The City has consistently championed Open Data. Our trustees set up ODI Aberdeen, the only Scottish node of the Open Data Institute. As an organisation, and as individual trustees, we’ve worked to highlight the case to government for open data, to use open data, to make data open, and to educate others in the benefits and opportunities of open data. The highly-successful Open Data Scotland portal, built by a team of community volunteers to address a gap in Government provision, grew from conversations at previous SODU events and hack weekends which we hosted.

Why open data is important

Making data, particularly government data, open has very many benefits – from transparency to citizen empowerment; from providing fuel for innovation to improving government efficiency and much more. The Open Data Handbook is a great source of further background on this. In early 2020 the EU Data portal published a meta-study of the economic value of open data in early 2020. From this we extrapolated that the economic potential to Scotland, if OD publishing were done well, could be in excess of £2 billion per annum. Our trustee, Ian Watt published a research paper What is Open Data and Why Does it Matter? with the David Hume Institute which is available here under an CC-VY-SA 4 open licence.

A brief history of SODU

Back in 2020 we came up with the idea of a Scottish Open Data Unconference – an event which anyone with an interest in open data could attend (whether an activist or mildly curious; whether in Government, civic society, academia, or industry). The event was in part inspired by our hosting UK Open Data Camp in 2018 but our intention was that it would target our growing network. It wouldn’t just be about OD in Scotland but would look worldwide to help Scottish attendees develop their understanding of OD, create small networks to address challenges locally, help publishers connect with their data consumers and vice versa.

Then Covid got in the way – and our March 2020 event (for which we had 107 attendees signed up) was pushed back and run as an online event in September with just a third of that number. We repeated it online again in October 2021 with a similar number of attendees.

We’re now delighted that SODU 2022 is back as a physical event at the ONE Tech Hub, Aberdeen which is a great space for meeting and working together. We’ll also have high quality catering to look forward to! And we’re doing all we can to make it as safe as possible here.

What to expect

Based on previous attendance at SODU 2020 and 2021, and similar events we’ve run, we expect a broad mix of attendees. There will be a strong presence from civic society, with others from academia, the press and the IT / Data industry. W are also hopeful that we will see some attendees from government, given their policy / strategy / legislative obligation to publish data.

Each day will be different, depending on who is there and what they want to discuss (see format below). Some will attend to show their work or share research; others to run practical sessions. Some will offer informal educational slots; others will seek support for projects; and others still will seek or provide feedback on plans, or data provision.

The key to a successful event is the mix of attendees and people bringing a positive, open attitude, and a willingness to engage.


This event will follow the open space format, where participants create the agenda each morning for the sessions that will happen that day. This is the time to pitch your questions to the many people who will be there, and to tell others about your project too.

Sessions in open space always work best when there is an interactive aspect so that the participants talk as much as the person chairing the session. This short video will tell you more about open space. The amazing thing is that it scales really well from 20 people to over 1000 people.


We’ve several types of tickets available.

  • Weekend-long ones for students at just £15,
  • General weekend tickets for just £25,
  • Daily tickets at £15 for either the Saturday or Sunday, and
  • Weekend online tickets for just £10.

And if the price is a barrier to your attendance just tell us and we’ll sort something out for you.

These events work best with a broad mix of attendees. No matter what your skillset, interest area or knowledge there is something for you – and something you can contribute. The write-ups of the 2020 and the 2021 events will remind you of how much can be achieved by a group of dedicated people over just a few hours!

Book here.

We hope that you can join us.

Ian, Karen, Andrew, Pauline, Bruce
Code The City
Charity SC047835

SODU2020 – a guest post by Sarah Roberts of Swirrl

Scottish Open Data Unconference

It’s all going on in Scotland in March. As we spring into Spring (nearly there!), we’re very excited to be sponsoring, and going, to the Scottish Open Data Unconference in Aberdeen on 14th and 15th March. Topics are pitched in the morning of each day, an agenda is created and participants talk as much as the chair. 

Our colleague Jamie Whyte is lucky enough to have a ticket, so if you spot him do say hi! Here are some recent open data happenings we’ve picked up on our radar…

Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation

The Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation was released late January and we loved the accompanying briefing document, which put the numbers into context (find it here). The data’s also available on the Scottish Government’s Open Data site, where you can use the Atlas section to find key data zones and see key facts about them. The below screenshot is of the data zone which is ranked as the most deprived in the 2020 SIMD.

SIMD - Greenock Town centre
SIMD – Greenock Town centre

People are already making stuff with the data — below is a screenshot of Jamie’s lava lamp visualisation of the data

Commentary, explanation and analysis from others include: Alasdair Rae’s summary matrix of the SIMD data by council area, a story graphic of the data, an interactive mapping tool, an analysis blog post from Scottish parliament information centre and news articles, like this one from the BBC.

Jamie Whyte - King of the Lava Lamp
Jamie Whyte – King of the Lava Lamp image

W3C Community Group

Another thing we’ve noticed is that there’s preliminary work happening on GraphQL and RDF, which aims to serve as a case for future standardisation. More on this here, where you can send a request to join the group if this is your bag. It’s definitely ours! 

Collaborative work with data

Last, but not least, collaboration. This is a wide concept but it’s also a trend that’s cropping up in different aspects of working with open data. Here are some we’ve noticed:

“promote trust and co-operation between government and civil society.”

  • The Office for National Statistics is publishing data in a collaborative project across a spread of organisations including ONS, HMRC, MHCLG, DWP and DIT. The Connected Open Government Statistics (COGS) project involves a lot of technical collaborative work in harmonising codelists, as well as harmonising a data model and all the processes that go into it. More on this project here on the GSS blog site. 
  • 2019 saw a growing, collaborative API community, with API events involving government and people working with government. We went to one in Newcastle and another one’s arranged for March 16th (if you’re still hungry for more after the unconference!) 
  • The Open Data Institute have been busy, busy, busy. Jeni Tennison spoke about the idea of how collaboration is key for new institutions of the data age, at our Power of Data conference in October (catch that video here). The ODI have also been working on a data and public services toolkit & there’s an introductory event to this in Edinburgh just a few days before the Scottish Open Data Unconference. 

Thanks for reading! If you’d like to find out a bit more about who we are and what we do, take a look at our website, our blog, our latest newsletter and / or our twitter stream. We’ve just been named as one of the FT1000 fastest growing companies in Europe and we’re still hiring, so if you think you can help us we’d love to hear from you. 

We love data and we’re delighted to be sponsoring the Scottish Open Data Unconference. See you there.