For a second consecutive year, Belfast City Council is working in partnership with local companies Xpand and Allstate NI on two innovative data projects.

Northern Ireland Finance Minister, Conor Murphy announced the winners of the Department of Finance’s Open Data Innovation and Outreach Fund on 7 May 2021.

Eight projects have been successful in applying to the £40,000 fund which encourages innovation in the reuse of data on the Open Data NI portal.

The Fund is a key strand of the Open Data Strategy for Northern Ireland 2020-2023. It aims to promote NI government open data re-use, stimulate innovation with data, and broaden skills and competence in working with open data in Northern Ireland.

The fund awarded funding under the following three categories:

  • Category A – Supporting innovative use of NI government open data
  • Category B – Advocacy of open data, through outreach and engagement
  • Category C – Covid-19 – its impacts and responses

Category A – Supporting Innovative Use of NI government Open Data

  • David Mulholland, awarded £1,500 for NI Poligraph, a site created to provide ongoing data-driven analysis of Northern Irish politics, thereby increasing public engagement with government and its institutions and promoting transparency.
  • Brian Cleland of Newry 2020, awarded £4,889.18 for Smart Newry: Phase Two, continuing and building upon the Smart Newry project (which, as keen Open Data watchers will know,  was successful in attracting funding in last year’s OpenDataNI Innovation & Outreach Fund); the project will expand on Smart Newry’s community-based open environmental data platform, working to widen the range of data collected and deepen engagement with the local and regional community.
  • Matt Barnes of Xpand Group Ltd, awarded £5,000 for development of software enabling analysis of transport and mobility data in Northern Ireland; working in partnership with Belfast City Council, this project shall incorporate baseline data modelling for analysis of transport and mobility data, and aims to produce visualisations and insights to support delivery of investment in Belfast.
  • Anne Orr of Boards123 | Digital54 Ltd, awarded £5,000 for Boards 123 ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) Dashboard; development of the Dashboard will support businesses and organisations to make purpose-driven decisions to improve sustainability and meet the environmental, social impact and governance goals of their business.
  • Nick Gaywood, awarded £3,000 for analysis of usage of the Belfast Bikes scheme; this project will show detailed analysis of the Belfast Bikes scheme’s usage to date and will provide insight into likely future usage of the scheme.

Category B – Advocacy of Open data, through Outreach and Engagement

  • Kathy Ayers of Data, Discovery and Decision Science – AllstateNI, awarded £2,550 for Data Hack for Good 2021; again, keen OpenDataNI-watchers will recognise this as a repeat successful applicant to the Fund – this year’s application will again seek to promote open data awareness and uptake of open data in Northern Ireland through the proven formula of the Data Hack for Good, whilst building on the experience of last year’s event. Plans to expand the event’s duration, as well as other innovations yet to be announced will make the event a ‘must see’ for the burgeoning tech community in Northern Ireland.

Category C – Covid-19 – its impacts and responses

  • Dr Orna Young of FactCheck NI, awarded £5,000 for Open Data: COVID-19 Facts; this project will produce a number of fact-checked articles and infrographics, to provide the public with factually accurate information about the impacts of Covid-19 and the efforts being made to counter Covid-19.
  • Sarah Byrne of Flax & Teal Ltd, awarded £5,000 for SARS-CoV-2 vaccine supply/demand infographic; this project aims to expand on the team’s existing geospatial interactive packages to present global SARS-CoV-2 vaccine supply and demand information in a user-friendly way, allowing the public and data-journalists to contextualise the vaccine programme more effectively.

Full details of the successful projects are available at