Engagement Fund: Re-calling outcomes from 1st Irish Citizen Workshop on Open Data & Hospital Waiting Lists and launching Workshop no 2 - Open Knowledge Ireland

July 17, 2017


On Saturday March 25th 2017, Open Knowledge Ireland held the first Open Data Citizen Workshop on Hospital Waiting Lists in Ireland. The workshop was well attended with citizens of different professional backgrounds and a shared interest in exploring and understanding the existing data on Hospital Waiting Lists as well as looking at the actual patient journey to see where opportunities for Open Data present themselves.

The workshop was the first in a series of 4 workshops that are being run by Open Knowledge Ireland throughout this year as an initiative to prototype use cases of Open Data for the benefit of all citizens.

The 2nd Workshop will take place next Saturday, July 22nd where we’ll take all the ideas the teams generated during the first workshop and with a lot of team spirit and with all the insights from workshop #1 we think we can build some first prototypes!

HWL Workshop #2 — Register Here

Please also see more information from the 1st Open Data Hackathon on Hospital Waiting Lists on data.gov.ie and on openknowledge.ie


The initiative is being funded by the ‘Open Data Engagement Fund’ called into life by the Dept. of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) following recommendations by OK Ireland and the Open Data Governance Board that funding is required in order to identify and prototype Open Data use cases by way of engaging citizens, organisations, businesses, and academics, etc.

Given the opportunity, we at Open Knowledge Ireland wanted to use our expertise on all things Open Data to help to address a looming healthcare crisis. Our aim is to empower everyone to answer real questions (think “I need to go to the hospital — where do I best go for the shortest wait time?”) on a daily basis by making publicly available data useful with the help of modern technologies.

In order to achieve this we employ practical examples of how the availability of data in 21st century machine readable formats enables citizens to make life saving and life changing choices. The aim is to encourage those that hold data on the public to make more of the high social impact data available to the public in widely agreed Open Data formats. This would allow data users and analysts to transform data into easily accessible, comprehensive and interactive information about how we live, where we donate our money to, and who gets our vote.

Our ultimate goal with this series of workshops is the improvement of health treatment outcomes by helping patients and doctors to make data-driven choices about medical appointments and speeding up the access to health care services. As a result, we shall see fewer adverse health outcomes and a more efficient national health service infrastructure.

By using recently published health care data as an example to develop prototypes and use cases that clearly show how Open Data can be used, we are also aiming at the following short- and long-term social impact:

  • provide transparency and increase citizen participation in building a more efficient healthcare sector
  • accelerate innovation by publishing open government data
  • empower everyone to use the data in day-to-day life

With the workshop we created a space to build engagement around open data and hospital waiting lists and offered participants a practical way to get involved. The workshop was possible because in December 2016 the NTPF published Hospital Waiting List Data on data.gov.ie as machine readable data for the first time following a dedicated 2 year advocacy campaign from OK Ireland to release the data to the public in machine readable format. E.g. data on In- and Out-patient Hospital Waiting Lists can now be found here, here, and here.

How did the workshop go?

The workshop was split into different sections:

Arrival & Getting to know each other

Things formally kicked-off with with Stan giving some background on Open Data in Ireland and Hospital Waiting lists, and why one is important for the other. Flora then gave a brief overview of the structure of the workshop borrowing elements from the ever more popular unconference styles, hackathons and participatory workshops, getting everyone up off their seats to set the tone for the workshop.


Open Data Roadshow

One question that we wanted to answer for all participants of the workshop was

What is Open Data? — And how can it help address the growing Hospital Waiting Lists.

The room layout was designed to to provide the backdrop to the topic of the day — Exploring the touch points of Open Data with one of the most pressing societal issues in Ireland — Hospital Waiting Lists. Different sections of the room provided opportunities for participants to go on a journey, discover and discuss different installations with subject matter experts to learn more about the issue at hand. Installations included among others:

  • What is Open Data
  • Purpose of the Open Data workshop
  • Why we should care
  • Who we need to deliver for — think current patients and future patients (pretty much everyone!)
  • How to make a #SocialImpact
  • The Role of Open Knowledge Ireland as an independent citizen organisation
  • Progress of Open Data in Ireland
  • Progress of Hospital Data being published
  • Some examples of Open Data Use cases

Working Group Projects

Working groups then formed and started exploring the ‘Hospital Waiting List’ issues armed with newly gained knowledge and background on Open Data and the impact of Hospital Waiting Lists. Working groups continued until lunch time and included the following:

  • Discovering and mapping the patient journey
  • Forming and understanding the data problem statement
  • Exploring the data held on Hospital Waiting Lists on data.gov.ie
  • Definition of a model for generating data insights and building prototypes,
  • Exploring the technology components to the problem of gathering and reporting the Hospital Wait Time data at a healthcare provider level

Learning from Northern Ireland

After lunch we had the opportunity to get a demo of the Hospital Wait Time dashboard created using open data in Northern Ireland. Bob Harper provided an overview and insights into how the different dashboards (outpatient, in-patient, A&E) are being created using open data published by NIDirect and Department of Health NI. Link to hosting website.

It was concluded that a prototype of something similar should be doable in Ireland and we think we have the right people in the room! Speak to either Flora or Denis if you’d like to get involved.


Conferencing with Bob Harper. Waiting times ✚ is a project by Detail Data and ODI Belfast based at NICVA .


The groups then continued work on their projects and finally fed their gained understanding, insights, visualisations, and observations into a requirements gathering & ideation session at the end of the workshop. All of this was used to gather a long list of ideas which will feed into the 2nd workshop where projects and next steps will be validated and prioritised using a service design approach.

And finally what would a workshop be without a social get together, celebrating the day and discussing the most “outside of the box” ideas in Arthur’s favourite Pub.

We much appreciate everyone coming together and exploring solutions for citizens by citizens and we thoroughly enjoyed working with everyone. There was great team spirit on the day and once again it made us realise the importance of including citizens and their requirements in driving benefits for citizens through Open Data.

We’re looking forward to our 2nd workshop which is scheduled for 22nd July and hope you can make it to start shaping and building on the ideas generated during our first workshop. We’re looking forward to it & here’s a rough outline:

Workshop #2: Idea validation and start to build

  • Research & Benchmarking
  • Round 1 idea validation against goals and objectives
  • Round 1 idea validation against requirements and availability of tools, infrastructure, and resources
  • ‘Short list’ use case idea and initial requirements gathering: decide on use case scenarios to take further
  • Data gathering and cleansing, data match and merge
  • Use case mock-ups
  • Begin to design and build
  • End-user interviews
  • Early outputs goal: wire frames, basic data visualizations

Registration page for Workshop #2: https://ti.to/open-knowledge-ireland/Waiting-List-Workshop-2

When: Saturday, July 22nd, 2017 (10:00–17:00)

Doors open: 9:30

Venue: Guinness Enterprise Centre, Taylor’s Lane, Dublin 8, Ireland (Follow this link for Google StreetView)

Hashtags: #opendataIRL #HospitalWaitingLists

Open Knowledge Ireland

See OKI's full article with photos here