Dear network members,
We received 4 nominations for the role of Steering Group member & representative for Civil Society in Scotland’s Open Government Partnership. As this matches the number of current vacant positions (4/11), the good news is that it saves the candidates week of election stress and we are really pleased to be able to welcome all the new representatives below:
Sally Kerr – Bio
Having worked in local government for over 30 years in a variety of digital and data roles, Sally Kerr has a strong understanding of the challenges and demands facing cities in an age of quickly evolving technology and data innovation. She also appreciates the positive impact and power of data to inform and improve citizens lives and city services. As Council Web Manager and Product Owner for over 10 years she developed the Council’s digital services, and enterprise web and social media estate, ensuring that data transparency, quality and value was a primary driver in this programme.
She has worked on a range of data driven projects promoting Open Data, leading the development and delivery of the City of Edinburgh Council’s Open Data Strategy (2013 - ) and programme, delivering its Open Data Portal and a programme of activities, spear-headed with the establishment of EdinburghApps, an Open Innovation civic challenge competition which addressed service and city issues, creating new products and transforming services using Council data, demonstrating the value of data re-use. She has also led two Nesta Scotland Open Data projects, creating Edinburgh Outdoors and Edinburgh Collected the latter a ground breaking example of a digital heritage service platform creating open data at source.
She has collaborated with public sector agencies and Universities in the city, sharing data for events and projects, creating prototypes and MVPs to inform city decision making, as well as stimulating new business development and local economic growth through EdinburghApps. She is a co-founder of Edinburgh Living Lab, based in the University of Edinburgh, and has worked with them to deliver local data and design driven projects in the Council and the City of Edinburgh, using innovative approaches to citizen engagement.
As Digital Innovation Manager at the City of Edinburgh Council (2016-19), she has had a strategic remit that includes collaborating with a range of sectors, identifying opportunities with city partners and across Scotland, involving new technology and new use of data. An example is the recent Noiseability project, gathering data through noise sensors and, with community engagement, to building a dashboard visualising impact and informing decision making to improve the city environment. She works closely with the Universities in the city to identify both short-term student projects and research work, often involving re-use of data such as improving walking and cycling in areas of the city.
She has worked at a National level, sitting on the Scottish Government’s Open Data Strategy working and review groups, and representing Scottish local government on the Government working group for mygov.scot (digital transformation), and participated in the Scottish Local Government Digital Office Programme, both in their Better Use of Data project and as project lead for their Open Innovation project.
With the Scottish Cities Alliance, Sally Kerr has provided advice and guidance on their 8th city programme, specifically around the development of open data. She has also worked collaboratively with the Data Lab, one of Scotland’s Innovation Centres, and is a strong supporter of the drive to train more data scientists and offer opportunities to learn data and digital skills as lifelong learning.
Sally has also worked with Eurocities for a number of years, championing Edinburgh’s data and digital innovation, and sits as the co-chair of their Data Group and Urban Digital Task Force, which focuses on the impact of emerging technology on the public sector.
Graham Meikle - Bio
Hello everyone. I am Professor of Communication and Digital Media at the University of Westminster. I commute to London from my home in Stirling, where I was until 2013 a senior lecturer at the university. I grew up in Edinburgh, graduating from the University of Edinburgh in 1988. I later spent 15 years in Australia, where I completed a PhD and a Master’s degree, before returning with my family back home to Scotland in 2007. As a professor, I have won a national teaching award and have published seven books on topics that are directly relevant to the concerns of OGN Scotland, including books on social media, activism, news and journalism, and the emerging data landscape of the internet of things. I am an elected member and director of my university’s governing body, and also of its highest decision-making committee. Before becoming a lecturer 20 years ago, I taught English for several years in Japan, Spain, Ecuador, Australia and Scotland.
I am volunteering to contribute my professional skills and experience in helping the Civil Society Steering Group work to improve openness, transparency and participation in Scottish public life. I am particularly interested in working on the current action plan’s third commitment: to improving the sharing of information. This connects with my work on media literacy, which I see as something of vital importance to all citizens at all ages. Not just a matter for the school curriculum or for developing skills for economic benefit, literacy also has vital civic and personal dimensions that OGN Scotland is well placed to advocate and promote. If elected, I will draw on my research experience and on the communication skills of my professional life as a professor of communication in working towards the goals of OGN Scotland and of its current and future action plans. I offer to serve in an ethical, responsible and conscientious way.
Kelly McBride - Bio
I lead the office of The Democratic Society (Demsoc) in Scotland and I have a decade of experience facilitating dialogue and deliberation, most recently working on projects that support opportunities for people to be more involved in making and shaping the decisions that affect their lives. I’ve been actively working on open government in Scotland and further afield since 2016. I have facilitated events for the network and been particularly involved in discussions around participation. I have recently worked with colleagues at Demsoc and the Open Government Partnership (OGP) to establish the Open Government Network for Europe. I also contribute to the international OGP practice group on deliberation, which recently published guidance on getting policy making out from behind closed doors’. I joined the Scottish delegation at the last OGP summit and co-hosted a workshop exploring local approaches. I’m pretty enthusiastic about encouraging more open government!
I want to work collaboratively to make the open government network in Scotland a thriving space for discussion (and action!) to progress openness, transparency, accountability and participation. These principles are at the heart of my day-to-day work and I’ve been inspired by the stories I’ve heard within and outwith Scotland around the role that more open government can have in improving lives and communities.I see ample opportunities to build and develop the profile and work of the OGN in Scotland, including better connecting with initiatives already taking place at the local and national level, and taking the network out into more offline spaces. I’m now in a position where I can make a more active contribution and I’d love the opportunity to work with the Steering Group and wider network to plan where we go next and, importantly, constructively scrutinise the progress of national commitments. In terms of specific commitments in the current national action plan, I would be particularly keen to be involved in number 2, which is concerned with ‘providing a framework that supports systematic change in Scottish Government to improve the way people are able to take part in open policy-making and service delivery’.
Ian Watt - Bio
I am CEO of Code The City, Charity SC047835. Our mission is to use tech and data for civic good. We have run 17 events for the public and third sectors over the last five years, each helping providers of services to identify opportunities to innovate and better serve society. We champion open data and open source code. I am a practicing data scientist, and formerly worked for the public sector for 34 years. Latterly, while working for a local authority I led their participation in many large-scale digital programmes. I run hack weekends, data meet-ups, a Python user group and young coders sessions.
I have been a long-term campaigner for Open Data. I personally published the first Open Data in the whole of the Scottish Public Sector in August 2010. I was one of the authors of the Scottish Government’s Open Data Strategy 2015. I led Aberdeen City Council’s Open Data programme, its Code For Europe programme, and led the Scottish Cities Alliance’s Data Cluster (open data ) programme for all of Scotland’s seven cities. As a trustee of Code The City I also co-founded ODI Aberdeen, the only Scottish node of the Open Data Institute.
I care deeply about the potential of open data as a stimulator for innovation, a enabler of efficiency and a tool for transparency. Sadly, Scotland’s provision of open data, while containing some good limited examples, is presently far short of what it should be. There is currently no policy or strategy underpinning open data at a Scottish Government level, nor in local authorities and other public agencies. By the failure of these bodies to provide the data that the developer, data science, and innovation communities need at scale and by default, Scotland is being failed.
The Scottish Civil Society Network’s Steering Group needs a strong voice representing the Open Data community in order to move this up the government’s agenda and to ensure that Scotland as a whole will benefit from the so-far untapped potential. I can provide that voice and use my experience and knowledge for the public good.
Congratulations + thank you for joining and expanding the group. Your skills, expertise and experience are much welcome and needed. The current civil society network representatives are:
- Shaben Begum, Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance
- Catherine Gee, Keep Scotland Beautiful
- Elric Honore, Chair of Civil Society Steering Group
- Sally Kerr, Civil Society
- Kelly McBride, Demsoc
- Benjamin McElwee, See Me Scotland
- Lucy McTernan, Civil Society
- Graham Meikle, Civil Society
- Kaela Scott, Involve (currently on secondment with Scottish Government)
- Alex Stobart, Mydex CIC
- Ian Watt, Code the City
For info the full OGP steering group is at (this will need to be updated)