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Leeds and York to get hyperlocal as funding awarded to a Yorkshire creative consortium

A Yorkshire consortium led by Leeds-based boutique media company Hebe Media and supported by the Leeds Data Mill, is one of four UK companies to win Nesta and the Technology Strategy Board’s Destination Local Demonstrators competition for funding; securing a share of the £2.4 million fund that aims to demonstrate the potential of “hyperlocal” media technologies to serve communities across the UK.

The award builds on earlier investment by the UK innovation foundation Nesta, which enabled Hebe Media to launch the development of a mobile news service, and will allow them to work with Leeds City Council, City of York Council, The York Channel (holders of the Local TV licence for the York area) and University of Central Lancashire.

During an 18 month long project the partners will investigate together ways that locally sourced open data can be leveraged to create new media technologies and experiences that improve peoples’ lives and support thriving, local media eco-systems.

Critical to the success of the project will be the fusion of Hebe’s services to the Leeds Data Mill – a ground-breaking open data platform that was launched in April.

With initial backing from the Cabinet Office’s Release of Data Fund and Leeds City Council, Leeds Data Mill aims to kick start a new generation of data-driven cities and businesses.

The Leeds Data Mill project is believed to be the first platform in the country to bring together open data information from multiple sectors across a city, uniting public, private, cultural and third sector data.

By bringing data together in this way, new insight can be created which has the potential to reduce costs, improve city-wide services and empower citizens.

Nesta and the Technology Strategy Board’s funding will allow the development of a second Data Mill in York and will enable people and organisations to explore the different complex relationships between the city’s services and businesses, offering a greater insight into the workings of the city than ever before.

Simon Zimmerman of Hebe Media said:

“Our consortium will transform small data from the two Mills into local media content and experiences, predominantly aimed at mobile and TV, that help citizens to better understand the places in which they live.

“There is a highly active community of partners involved, who operate at local level as media producers, journalists, researchers, data scientists, hackers, web engineers and entrepreneurs: hacking local data for local good.”

Mark Barrett of Leeds Data Mill said:

“By bringing data together from across Leeds, from multiple sectors, we have created something that can be used by anyone to help improve the city.

“The Technology Strategy Boards funding will allow us to create another Open Data platform to another of the UK’s greatest cities, and by collaborating with the consortium led by Hebe Media there is enormous potential for us to learn more about both Leeds and York and transform the places where we live, work and play.

“We hope to work with additional cities in the future to help them achieve their Open Data goals too.”

Kersten England, chief executive of City of York Council, said:

“As a city and a local authority that is committed to being open and transparent, we look forward to working with the partners and public to deliver real insights and improvements to everyday life and services in York.

“We wish to encourage local businesses and institutions, service providers, and residents to join us in this exciting project.”

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