The Scottish Information Commissioner - It's Public Knowledge
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Festival of Politics 2011 Logo

 Access to information? ... There's a website for that!

FREE seminar: Friday 26 August 2011, 13:30 to 14:30, in Committee Room 3, The Scottish Parliament 

In association with the Scottish Information Commissioner.

Scotland's freedom of information laws give everyone the right to receive information from Scotland's public authorities, but how has the internet changed access to information?  Are we getting more than before, and are we getting what we want, or just what public authorities want us to see?  Join us at this FREE seminar to find out how new media make it easier for people to ask for information, and how they have led to the creation of new kinds of information using government data.

Attendees will hear from local Edinburgh man, Michael Traill, who became interested in FOI when asking Lothian and Borders police for information some years ago, and now regularly makes FOI requests online, sharing the information he obtains on his blog and in the local press.  There will also be live demonstrations of websites which take raw government data and use it to provide new and useful services for the public.  For example, is based on an archive of Scottish public notices and allows members of the public to check e.g. local planning notices in their area, or roadworks on a route they plan to travel.

The event will round up with a chance to discuss the issues raised with a panel including the Commissioner and speakers, chaired by Kirstie Shirra, a freelance campaigner who started out on her career as Scotland's only full time FOI lobbyist, when she was at Friends of the Earth Scotland.

The Programme

  • 13:30 Introduction from Chair: Kevin Dunion
  • 13:35 "WhatDoTheyKnow" ? and how you can find out: Michael Traill
  • 13:45 Open data ? bringing government information to life: Ben Plouviez and Bill Roberts
  • 14:05 Q&A discussion panel chaired by Kirstie Shirra
  • 14:30 Thanks and final words from Kevin Dunion
Panel: Kevin Dunion, Michael Traill, Ben Plouviez, Bill Roberts

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Download the event poster (PDF - 82 kB)


About the speakers

  • Michael Traill is a member of the public, and a regular user of Scotland's FOI laws.
  • Ben Plouviez is Head of Information Services at The Scottish Government, responsible for information management strategy and policy.
  • Bill Roberts is a co-founder of Swirrl, a Scottish linked and open source data consultancy.
  • Kirstie Shirra is a freelance campaigner, who lobbied the Scottish Parliament for an FOI law when working for Friends of the Earth Scotland.

How do I book my FREE space?

  • Visit or call 0131 473 2000
  • Write or call in: The Festival of Politics, Hub Tickets, The Hub, Castlehill, Edinburgh, EH1 2NE.

About the Festival of Politics

This is the seventh annual Festival of Politics, hosted by the Scottish Parliament every August.  The aim is to bring politics closer to the people.  This year's festival,which runs from 20-27 August 2011, presents a diverse programme of events bringing together politics, media and the arts through performance, discussion and debate, under the theme "Renewing politics in the age of new media".  It is the second year that the Scottish Information Commissioner has been invited to hold an event as part of the Festival.   

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