Data Play


By David Tetley and Hannah Sloggett

Image credit: Dom Moore


Does anyone like data? Are there people in the city who want to do fun stuff with data? What new things can we learn and explore from data? This is what Data Play is exploring.


Data Play is an exciting new initiative led by Plymouth City Council Neighbourhood Planning Team to open up the Council’s data for the tech and creative industries to use. Creating apps, maps, games, installations, artworks and other ways to look at data helps everyone to explore the city in different ways. This is a win-win opportunity; the Council improve the management of data and explore new ways to collect data, local companies and tech people benefit from having data to experiment with and local people have more easy access to data.

The first challenge was how to get people excited about the idea of doing things with Council data. Thinq Tanq, RIO and i-DAT all helped to spread the word and 51 Studio developed an identity for the project to appeal to the local tech community. David Tetley, Creative Director of 51 says; “We were very aware that this identity needed to appeal to a bunch of intelligent people but still have a sense of playfulness to relate it back to the concept of the project – playing with data. We settled on an identity that promoted, professionalism, intelligence, creativity, flexibility and playfulness. A pie chart graphic language was created to denote data that could continuously change appearance and be organised to create different visuals and situations to mimic all the different directions open data can go. High-impact messaging with strong typography keeps the content straight-to-the-point and honest.”

The first Data Play event in November 2015

Data Play posters and graphics by 51 Studio

So far data has been released on things like public toilets, green spaces and parking permit areas and the Council would like to hear about data sets that people would find useful. All data goes through a process with strict checks and balances in place. Data Play has been funded by the Government through an initiative called Delivering Differently– a drive to find new ways for local councils to work with reduced budgets. Data Play Days bring together people explore and experiment, they are free and open to anyone. You can find out more on the Data Play blog.

A young persons Play Day saw tech talent from Plymstock, Torbridge and Devonport High School for Boys playing with data and thinking about careers in the digital industry with RIO. Their ideas included a way to give a safety rating for neighbourhoods, ways to encourage community involvement and exploring local history. The project is growing – with Plymouth Energy Community, Plymouth College of Art, Plymouth Marine Laboratory all looking to open data to share and projects looking at data and greenspaces.

“This identity has the flexibility to grow and we hope it attracts a range of people to get involved in DATA Play, from the general public to the tech and creative communities.” said David Tetley. From a financial point of view opening data makes business sense and could help to support local businesses to grow and new businesses to start in the city. The Open Data Institute say UK companies using, producing or investing in open data have a combined annual turnover of over £92bn, employing over 500,000 people, open data is now incredibly important as an income stream. Source:

You can see more of 51 Studio’s work at

To contact DATA Play, please email

The next DATA Play event is on 4 – 5 March, save the date! Put together a team to show what you can do with Council’s data and you could be up for one of the three £2,000 rewards.