mySociety’s Data Hackday

Hacking in a Suite at Clarion, by Johan Nilsson

Over 115,000 Freedom of Information requests.

Almost 225,000 FixMyStreet reports.

Close to 3,000 public transport problems.

Every word spoken in Parliament since 1935.

So, what would you like to know?

There’s no doubt about it, mySociety sites store a lot of data. And once you have that much data, you can start finding the answers to interesting questions. Questions like:

  • Which public bodies receive the most FOI requests?
  • Which county gets the most pothole reports?
  • Which train routes are people complaining most about?
  • Which MP has spoken for the longest cumulative time in the history of Parliament?

There are less obvious questions, too – how about:

  • Which regions of the country are most likely to include bad language when submitting a form online?
  • How many times does the Speaker have to interject, “Order, order!” in an average week?
  • Which words are most spoken in Parliament, and which have only become popular in the last five years?
  • What topics do people submit the most Freedom of Information requests about?
  • Just how often does a UK citizen get so fed up about dog poop that they take action?

We reckon there are almost limitless stories in our data, waiting to be teased out. Some of them will be surprising, fascinating, or just plain funny. Some may even be potential front page news. So, we’ve invited journalists who have a particular interest in data, or indeed in any of the areas we work in, to come and have at it at our first ever mySociety Data Hackday.

Not a journalist?

Journalists aren’t the only ones with bright ideas, so if you’re reading this and there’s a burning question that springs to mind, leave a comment below. Given all these reams of data, what would you be looking for? We’ll add the best ideas to our list, and we’ll be reporting back on everything we find out.

Actually, I am a journalist!

There are still a few places, so if you’d like to attend, please drop us a line. Note: we will expect you to get stuck in! We will run the data, but you may be sifting through the results, looking for significant stories, and sharing your findings. Bring a laptop, and plenty of ideas.

If you can’t attend, but really wish you could, let us know what data you’d like us to run, and we’ll add it to the list.

ETA: Lanyrd page here.

Image credit: Johan Nilsson


  1. Alexander Praetorius

    I would like to know the world history of what i call:

    “Total Debt / Amount of Money in Circulation”

    Where money is:
    – money (like dollars or euros…)
    – direct and indirect legal claims on money
    (e.g. money of private banks, trade credit, …)

    And “Amount of Money in Circulation” is:
    – money which is not hoarded or saved, but spent for investments or consume

    Create a picture of the flows of money and the growth of debts for different reagions in different times

  2. FixMyStreet
    # number of online replies by the authority
    # frequency of posts by authority to close the problem
    # average time between initial post and a response from the authority
    (read write API for FMS mmmmm)

    # Frequency of requests for information on staff pay

    One definite improvement to WDTK would be to prevent groups mass mailing all local authorities even those that do not perform that task. For example sending requests to f district councils questions on child care.

  3. Govinda Dickman

    I’d like to know how the term “sustainability” came to be linked with the mutually exclusive term “growth” – the political oxymoron of the 21st century…

    Do you think that a frequency analysis of these and related terms as they are used in political debate could reveal how this dangerous conflation came into being?