UK government boasts of “open data” successes

Open data, government transparency and business innovation is driving the country towards its “digital destiny”, according to the Cabinet Office minister

Francis Maude, minister for the Cabinet Office, has today given a speech praising the way in which the government’s open data policy – and the use UK businesses have made of it – has been a success in helping push the country towards its “digital destiny”.

Open data is a movement towards data sharing and transparency, and represents a shift in attitude whereby the government vowed to release more information into the public domain.

For instance, back in April 2010 the previous government opened up access to the full Ordnance Survey map data, free of charge even for commercial usage. Businesses can then use this open data to innovate and create new products.

The Guardian newspaper – which launched the “Free Our Data” campaign some six years ago now – notes some of the businesses which have sprung up around the premise of open data.

They include Parkopedia, a service which uses live data from local councils to help drivers locate free parking spaces, and Your Taxi Meter, which checks car registration plates to ensure you’re getting into a licensed cab.

Maude said: “Transparency is a defining passion for this Government. And the UK is leading the world in making data more freely available. Since this Government took office in May 2010 we now have regular publication of central department spending data over £25,000 and local government spending over £500.”

“Our Open Data commitments cover health, education, transport, crime and justice – as well as central government spending. We’ve already released over 40,000 datasets on data.gov.uk – the largest resource of its kind in the world.”

He added: “As we all become increasingly data rich I expect we will look back and wonder how we ever tolerated such collective ignorance in the past.”