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Frequently asked questions

Browse the website and search for the open data sets you are looking for, you can use them for free! We will be adding more as we go along, so please leave a comment if there is open data you'd like published.

You may want to see how others have used the data, like these examples in the sidebar. You may actually want to take the data away and create your own visualisations.

Below are some answers to frequently asked questions that we think you will find helpful. However, we want to know what other questions you have about the service and we’ll update this page with the answers on a regular basis.

What is Kent Connects?

Kent Connects is the lead technology partnership for Kent and Medway. It has already invested in a single, county wide infrastructure (both technology and people) to enable its partners to join up and share their services delivery mechanisms in a secure, robust and cost effective environment.

Kent Connects is an extremely effective and productive strategic partnership facilitating partner projects by providing advice and sharing best practice and resources.

If you would like to find out more about Kent Connects, please go here or email enquire@kentconnects.gov.uk.

What is the trial?

Open Kent aims to make open data available on local public services in Kent. Sponsored by our local technology partnership, Kent Connects, we're working across the county with the organisations listed below so that you can access the data in a single place.

Why are we running this trial?

Open Kent is a trial because we want to enable you to access and re-use open data, but we know that this is a very new area. Most people will never have heard of open data, let alone used it to create visualisations. Others however may have used tools to turn data into new web applications. 

We know there are amazing opportunities for open data to be used. So we want to test out during this trial how we can best provide you with the data and how you can make the best use of it.

To achieve that, we will work with the organisations below to make even more open data available and we will showcase the most creative uses of the data.

The trial will run to 30th September 2011, when we will evaluate its success and your feedback to shape our review.

Who is providing the data?

Ashford Borough Council, Canterbury City Council, Dover District Council, Gravesham Borough Council, Kent County Council, Kent Fire and Rescue, Maidstone Borough Council, Medway Council, Sevenoaks District Council, Shepway District Council, Swale Borough Council, Thanet District Council, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council and Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.

If you have a problem with the data, please contact the organisations responsible for the individual dataset, see the links above.

What is Open Data?

Open data is non-personal information that an organisation or an individual puts online in such a way that other people can use and re-use for free. This isn’t a legal definition, so if you want to know the terms and conditions of using the data on this website, see this.

What's a feed?

You might ask why all the data here has a link to “view feed”. A feed can make it easier for web developers to re-use the data. If you’re not a web developer, in most cases, you’ll be able to download the data directly to a spreadsheet.

In some cases, the data won’t be available in a spreadsheet format. That’s because where the data is frequently updated, it makes more sense to use a feed as you don’t need to go looking for different versions of spreadsheets.

What are visualisations?

Visualisations are ways of turning data into graphics which help you get a better idea of the information you’re looking at.

If you have data based on where services are based (with information on addresses), then you can use tools like this to visualise it on a map. If you have data which uses numbers (i.e. on statistical or performance), then you could use tools to present it on a chart.

There are many other ways to visualise data so leave a comment to tell us what tools you use and show us what visualisations you’ve created. We can then share these with others on this website.

I don't know how to use the data?

You might look at a spreadsheet or a feed and become overwhelmed by the quantity and complexity of the data.

Many visualisation tools only require you to upload or copy and paste the data and they’ll do the rest for you, so for example, you can see a map or a chart that suddenly makes the information become much clearer.

Have a look at this website and you can see how others across the country have used data in different areas.

I don't how to use the visualisation tools?

Like with any tool, it can be difficult to get to grips with visualisation tools but they do become easier to use with practice. This website gives you some steps on how to use these tools.

Why don't I just use a search engine?

Kent Connects is trying to encourage public service organisations to open up their data and enable you to find that and see how you can make use of it. But we’re not trying to build a search engine or a website of all information in Kent. However, if you’re a web developer and can use the data to create new web applications or ways to search it, then do let us know, we’d love to share them with others!

How are we able to publish the data?

Open Kent allows the above partner organisations to upload, share and compare information in a joined up manner. The IBM Mashup Centre is a system that provides organisations easy access to a wide range of publically available data in a simple and secure way.

IBM have partnered with Open Kent to provide an end-to-end enterprise mashup platform using IBM Mashup Centre technology. It supports the rapid assembly of dynamic web applications with the management, security, and governance capabilities IT requires.

Other questions?

If you have a question that we haven't covered, please add it as a comment below and we'll try and find the answer and then add that to the FAQs.

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