Departmental Open Data Strategies Blog

Perhaps once the concern only of a small number of technology minded ‘activists’, Open Data is now fast becoming an everyday concern for entrepreneurs, civil society organisations, industry and the wider public.  Whether you’re finding your next bus on your Smartphone or comparing local schools via links from a property finder website, you’re using Open Data.  Across the country, we’re seeing social innovators and entrepreneurs thriving on the back of open public data Case studies pack.  The importance of Open Data is also rising up international political and economic agendas World Bank Data Initiative.    

The push for Open Data has gained increasing momentum over the last few years and government has responded.  Today we publish our Open Data command paper, which sets out how we’re putting data and transparency at the heart of government and public services.  We’re making it easier to access public data; easier for data publishers to release data in standardised, open formats; and engraining a ‘presumption to publish’ unless specific reasons (such as privacy or national security) can be clearly articulated.  From the Prime Minister down, central Government is committed to making Open Data an effective engine of economic growth, social wellbeing, political accountability and public service improvement.  It’s an ambitious agenda, backed up by departmental Open Data Strategies also published today.

Over the last six months, we’ve also asked departments lead the way in thinking through what Transparency and Open Data means for their particular policy agendas, stakeholders and business activity.  Their Open Data Strategies put the agenda deep in the delivery of frontline government services, such as health, education, criminal justice, and transport. They also start to challenge the way government traditionally operates, bringing openness to areas where transparency might not – at first glance – seem to be a relevant or suitable instrument, such as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or Ministry of Defence. Focussed around three types of data, ‘big data’, ‘mydata’ (secure individual access to personal data) and customer feedback data, high profile data releases include:

  • The UKBA and the Border Force plan to increase the range of information about their activities and performance which is available to the public;
  • Cabinet Office will increase transparency on grant funding by publishing data on which organisations receive public money from civil society programmes; and,
  • DWP will release statistics on job outcomes and sustainment payments of the Work Programme from autumn 2012.

As we open up public data, we also want to give you the opportunity to engage in the process – working with us to identify what data should be prioritised and how it should be released, and letting us know of the array of useful applications, products and services you’re making with it.  As such, each department describes how it plans to work with data users to nurture a dynamic marketplace for data and information, as well as how they will address important data quality issues head on.

The publication of these Open Data Strategies, and a single spreadsheet of their forthcoming data publications (2012-14), represents a visible benchmark against which you – citizens, data users – can hold the Government to account.  We’re being transparent about Transparency, and urge you get involved through the white paper topic in the open data forum section of this site, the Open Data User Group (http://twitter.com/ODUGUK) or just by talking to us!  There’s much more to be done, but technological innovations and the increasing ease with which data can be collected, analysed and published create a strong imperative to continue apace.  Data really is a 21st Century fuel for social and economic growth. 

To view all of the Open Data Strategies click here.

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