Data used in Energy Sparks

Energy Sparks uses open data published by local schools

Energy Sparks is built on open data. All of the data you can see in the application has been published under an open licence. You are free to reuse the data for your own purposes. If you find useful insights then please share them with us so we can help make the service better.

If you do reuse the data then please use it responsibly.

How is the data collected?

The data is collected by smart meters installed in schools.

The meter readings are transferred into our data store and then imported in Energy Sparks to create charts and summaries

The raw energy usage data is automatically collected by smart meters installed in schools. The meters are owned and operated by the school's energy supplier. In Bath & North East Somerset, many of the local schools are part of the council's energy scheme and use a single supplier.

A school may have several gas and electricity meters. These may be installed in different buildings or to serve different parts of their premises. Currently not all schools have smart meters for both their gas and electricity meters.

The meter readings are collected and stored by the energy supplier. These are then given to the council and imported into a platform known as Systems Link which is licensed software used by the council. The platform provides a variety of reporting options and is used to bill schools for their energy usage.

Data aggregated by Systems Link is published as open data into the Bath: Hacked data store. This provides a variety of ways to explore and analyse the data. Only data from schools that have enrolled in EnergySparks is published as open data.

The data is imported from the Bath: Hacked data store into a local database used by the Energy Sparks application.

As there are several steps involved in getting the readings published as open data there can be a delay in the data being available. We estimate that on average it will take between 24-48 hours before the data is published.

Additional delays may arise if there are problems synchronising the data between the supplier, the council and Systems Link, or between Systems Link and the public data store.

Ideally fewer steps would be involved in making the data public. This would both reduce lead time and remove potential points of failure. We will explore other integration options in future releases.

How can you report a problem with the data?

Please report data problem so that we can correct the data and the application

If notice something unusual or potentially incorrect in the data shown in Energy Sparks then please report it directly to us in the first instance. We can identify whether the issue is with how the data has been imported into the application or whether its an issue with the raw data.

If you have already identified that there is a problem with the raw data in the data store then you can still report it to us so that we are aware of the issue.

If you are a school who is using Energy Sparks and no longer wish to be a part of the service, or want to stop publishing your usage data as open data, then again let us know and we will co-ordinate with the council to remove your data from Energy Sparks and the Bath: Hacked data store.

Where is the source data?

The original data is openly licensed. It can be accessed, used and shared by anyone

The data can be downloaded or queried via an API

The two primary sources of data used in Energy Sparks can be found in:

These datasets are published by Bath & North East Somerset Council on behalf of themselves and the participating school. It is reusable under the Open Government Licence.

These datasets contain energy usage data for all local council properties as well as the schools enrolled in EnergySparks.

Each row in the dataset contains 24 hours worth of readings collected every 30 minutes by a single meter.

The Bath: Hacked data store provides several ways to access the data including downloading readings as a CSV or Excel file. It can also be queried directly using an API.

Using the data responsibly

We recommend thinking carefully about how you interpret the data

Open data allows anyone to access and explore a dataset. But it is important to understand how a dataset is collected and what it is measuring before beginning to use it. This page provides additional background on the provenance of the data used in Energy Sparks.

The degree to which an individual school is able to reduce or improve its energy consumption depends on a number of different factors. All of these may impact how the data could or should be interpreted. If you are reusing the energy data you should consider what these factors might be. For example:

  • A school may have already achieved significant reductions in the past, e.g as part of getting Green Flag status. These schools may have to work much harder to see signficant reductions. For them the goal is to keep usage low and stable
  • School buildings and facilities vary considerably. Some schools have older buildings which limit their options for becoming more efficient. Some schools have have higher usage because they have swimming pools or other facilities that others do not
  • Schools are used during the evening and weekends for other community activities and events. This can change the energy usage profile of the school

Weather conditions can also impact the amount of energy used by the school over the course of a day or week

In short some care needs to be taken when comparing energy usage for even the same school across different days and times of the year. Comparing schools against one another is also very difficult and is not recommended unless you have accounted for differences in infrastructure, size and the usage profile of the buildings.

This is why we have focused Energy Sparks on encouraging schools in becoming energy efficient, rather than creating a ranking of local schools. Our gamification elements primarily measure behaviour change, not absolute energy usage.

If you would like help with interpreting the data then let us know