Southampton Open Data Blog

Times Higher Education Award

December 3, 2012
by Christopher Gutteridge

The University of Southampton won the award for “Outstanding ICT Initiative of the Year” for the open data service.

Personally I feel rather smug about this, as you can imagine, but while I may have worked my socks off, there’s a hell of  a lot of people who made it possible.

Obviously first of all is Professor Nigel Shadbolt & Dame Professor Wendy Hall for convincing the University it should have an open data service.

Next up is the team who created the origional ECS open data serviceMarcus Cobden, Alastair Cummings, Dr Nicholas Gibbins and Dr Colin Williams (who got his PhD last week).

Lots of general support from the Web and Internet Science research group and the members of the Enakting Project in particular.

There’s the project board; who’ve been very enthusiastic from the start; Malcolm Ace (Chief Operating Officer), Wendy Hall, Nigel Shadbolt, Debra Humphis (now sadly left the Uni to work for some place called “Imperial College”, sounds nice), Simon Peatfield (our head of Communications),  Hugh Davis (head of eLearning)  and Pete Hancock (our head of IT). The first meeting with this bunch had me really bloody scared but it went well, and they were all keen to see if we could prove this technology/approach in our day to day operations.

Dr Su White deserves special mention, as whenever I talked to any of the heads of services, it seemed she’d been chatting to them only a few days previous, talking up the benefits of open data.

Thanks to Paul Seabrooke in Buildings & Estates for help with navigating the subtleties of our list of buildings, and lots of other people in that department;  Jodie Barker and the energy team, and Neil Smith and the sustainability and recycling people, Adam Tewkesbury in the transport office (who was also part of a team shortlisted for a different THE Award).

A special James Leeming and his team in retain catering for being helpful, enthusiastic and patient when we’ve not yet delivered everything we promised.

In my own department, Tim Boardman who has now gone to some place up the road called “Oxford”, but was really helpful helping us learn to navigate the politics of databases in our University, Graham Robinson who did the cool feed which enables us to have workstations-in-use data. Lots of people who’ve given help, or had more work generated as a result of this project.

Nic Burns at the council, and both the previous and new real-time bus information contractors. We’re hoping to have that all up and running soon!

The Equipment sharing project team; Adrian Cox, Louise Payne, (and recently Adam Field has joined that mix), Don Spalinger, Hilary Smith, Pete Hancock (again), some helpful people from Finance who’s names elude me right now but are helping get things hooked up to their data.

The other open data projects around the UK have been a source of inspiration (and occasionally the only other people who understand the weird new challenges these projects bring). Mathieu D’Aquin ( who I’ve not always agreed with but have learned lots in our discussions, Alex Bilbie and Joss Winn at And a big thank-you for Dave Flanders for creating the UK community of developers that has meant we’ve started sharing ideas and solutions rather than stay buried in our institutional silos.

(I knew this was a long list, but wow! We’re down to the last few now…)

Dave Challis who kept the triplestores up and happy and worried about details I wouldn’t have had time for.

The company Garlik has a number of ex-Southampton staff who’ve been very helpful with advice on good practice. I’ll be gracious and still thank them even though they went and hired Dave Challis away from us. (he seemed happy when we had lunch on Saturday, so maybe the real world isn’t so bad).

Gavin Costigan actually put together our entry, and evidently did a good job– we won!

Charles Elder is the member of Communications who accompanied us to the awards, and was reassuring when we were rather out of our depth.

Naomi & Caroline, My and Dave’s girlfriends, who have been “RDF Widows” on a number of occasions when we were working silly hours to get everything working.

Colin Williams. What can I say about Colin? I think he’s the reason we won the award, without all the stuff he built on top of the open data, plus the events calendar. He’s had an amazing week with both the awards show and then successfully defending his PhD the day after. I’m gutted he’s leaving, but I’m sure we’ll see each other at the occasional hack day.

A wave to my new immediate team mates Patrick McSweeney and Ash Smith who both joined the team this year, Ash as full time Open Data Service development and Patrick as a “replacement” for Dave, although his facial hair is different enough to avoid people getting confused.

I think my biggest thanks goes to Alex Dutton at for being the sounding board, friend, and rival that we needed to make what it is. It’s fair to say that I can see aspects of my designs in, and of Alex’s in our service.

I’ve not included everyone who’s been a help, but this post is already nearly a thousand words, and past the TL;DR point, so I’m going to call it to a halt. Thanks to everybody, as a child I read science-fiction. Now I implement it.

Christopher Gutteridge, 2012.


Categories: Uncategorized.

2 thoughts on “Times Higher Education Award

  1. Alex Bilbie says:

    Congratulations to you Chris, and everyone involved (and thanks for the shout out).

    This is a huge win for the community and hopefully a sign of a bright future for the and open web communities.


  2. Joe Mclo says:

    Congrats Sir.
    The site inspires me every time I look at it

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