Tag Archives: sheffield

Meet the man who fought a dozen FOI battles to prove that data doesn’t cause crime

Empty Shops

Empty Shops image by Dan Thompson

For the last three years Gavin Chait has been fighting — and winning — multiple Freedom of Information cases to unlock data on vacant properties. In a special guest post ahead of his latest hearing, he explains how he uses a range of evidence to fight a widely misused exemption.

I don’t know how to break this to you, but you’re probably a terrorist.

According to Richard Woolford, Strategic Director of Security and Counter Terrorism with the City of London Corporation, unoccupied properties — and especially unoccupied commercial properties — are attractive for those intent on committing terrorism.

Any knowledge about vacant properties is so dangerous, he believes, that no information about them should be placed in the public domain.

Estate agents against terrorism

This will come as tough news to terrorism enablers, especially real-estate agents, property developers, banks, insurers, and Google Street View.

If you were hoping to find somewhere new to live, or somewhere to open your dream business, then – for the safety of everyone – you’ll need to stay put. Continue reading

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Hyperlocal Voices: Robin Byles (Sheffieldblog.com and Crosspool.info)

Hyperlocal voices: Sheffield blog

Here’s another hyperlocal voice: Robin Byles set up Sheffieldblog in 2008 when he returned to the city after working for the BBC. The site focuses on “The kind of stuff that may get featured as an aside in the local papers, but actually people are quite interested in and in the context of online, works really well.” More recently he’s also been involved in Crosspool.info. Here’s the full interview:

Who were the people behind the blog, and what were their backgrounds before setting it up?

I set the blog up on my own. I studied Media and Communications at UCE [now Birmingham City University], moved to London where I worked at the BBC for 8 years as a web editor and have now moved back north where I’m a digital editor for the University of Sheffield.

What made you decide to set up the blog?

A mixture of things really. I had seen one or two local blogs and knew that there wasn’t a major one covering my home town of Sheffield, so quite fancied setting something up.

I think living away from the area had given me a yearning for local news but not just the traditional stuff that I could read in the local paper or local news website.

I was also interested in the stories that people were talking about that didn’t always make the normal news outlets. This interesting stuff was out there on the internet and I liked the idea of being able to collate all this content and promote it from one place – a non-automated aggregator, I suppose.

I’m very fond of my home city and the pending move back home seemed like a good excuse to get something up and running.

I was also on the lookout for jobs at the time and knew that the more varied stuff that my CV had on it – in particular a place where I could do a bit of writing – the more it would help me find work. So part of the motivation was also a professional one. Continue reading