UK unveils plans for open technology standards

The UK is set to draw up new guidelines for open technology standards that all future IT projects must comply with.

Following a four-month consultation, the government has set standards that will dictate how data should be formatted and the ways that software should interoperate. This follows a long-running bid to standardise the hardware on which government services are built.

In basic terms, open standards as opposed to proprietary formats would let everyone see how the program is run and how the data is formatted. This transparency is supposed to help flush out bugs in software and make it easier for data to travel and be re-used as programmers can easily see how it is structured.

"For too long, government IT has been too expensive, over-specified and run in contract structures that encourage complexity, duplication and fragmented user services," said Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude in a speech announcing the strategy.

He went on to say that the standards the government wanted to adopt would favour smaller, innovative tech firms, and from 1 November every IT supplier would now have to comply with open data formats and protocols.