HM Government Opens Up Government Data to the Public

Data.gov.uk-in-preview-001The British Government has released data sets to the public for use in either the public or private sectors at data.gov.uk.

Previously, the governments of the United States, Australia, and New Zealand had created data sites for use by the public, including commercial use. The primary idea behind the release of these data sets is that publicly funded data ought to be made available to the public for free for re-use. The site creators hope that individuals and businesses will use the data creatively to add economic value and generate new services. Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt led the project in the UK.

The Guardian has posted a video interview with Berners-Lee and Shadbolt. Shadbolt gave an example of one re-use of this data by the public: an online route-planning tool that helps cyclists avoid areas where cyclists have the most accidents. Both project leaders discuss how the project developed, why they wanted to put government data online, why the data was released for free, and their hopes for data re-use.

The Open Data Principles the creators state on the site are as follows:

  • Public data will be published in reusable, machine-readable form
  • Public data will be available and easy to find through a single easy to use online access point (http://www.data.gov.uk/)
  • Public data will be published using open standards and following the recommendations of the World Wide Web Consortium
  • Any ‘raw’ dataset will be re-presented in linked data form
  • More public data will be released under an open licence which enables free reuse, including commercial reuse
  • Data underlying the Government’s own websites will be published in reusable form for others to use
  • Personal, classified, commercially sensitive and third-party data will continue to be protected.

Currently, the site is set up for users to run basic searches on just under 150 data sets. There are around 20 applications listed for use. I browsed through the available data sets. The available topics begin with 2008 Injury Road Traffic Collisions in Northern Ireland and end with a Youth Cohort Study & Longitudinal Study of Young People in England.

I look forward to following this project, seeing what data is added, and what re-uses of the data are made. I have not attempted to use any of the data sets, so I cannot report on any success or problems I have had with using them. If you have used or do use any of these data sets or applications, please let me know.

[Thanks, Jennifer M.]

Please let me know what you think....