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29 November 2011, 20:17

UK government announces open data initiative

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In his Autumn Statement on the state of the economy, the UK's Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, announced a major initiative to open up availability of government-owned data. The published statement states economic as well as political reasons for opening up government data: "Making more public sector information available will help catalyse new markets and innovative products and services as well as improving standards and transparency in public services." The most notable areas of data that will be opened up are transport, weather and health; individuals will have access to their own online GP records by the end of the current parliament.

Over the next five years, the government will provide up to £10 million to fund the establishment of an Open Data Institute near "Silicon Roundabout" in east London; this will help industry exploit the release of this data and will be headed by Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt, of Southampton University. Also planned are a Data Strategy Board and Public Data Group to make use of data from the Met Office, Ordnance Survey, the Land Registry and Companies House. This will include, for example, prices of residential properties sold from data available from the Land Registry.

The transport data that will be made available, much of it by early 2012, will cover train and bus timetables, rail prices, the performance of aviation service providers, and, highways and traffic data, including that on road works. The latter would likely be used by GPS systems to provide more timely and accurate navigation systems.


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