ODUG dataset recommendations

First of all, I would like to thank everyone who’s made a data request since the Open Data User Group (ODUG) launched the new data request form back in September. I am delighted with the number of requests we have received during this period, and encouraged by the show of interest and demand that is out there. It really makes my role as chair of ODUG worthwhile. The data requests are the fuel for ODUG – allowing us to prioritise well evidenced requests, with the potential to deliver growth and other benefits, for representation at the heart of government where we can argue the case for releasing this data as a priority.

You have all patiently waited for updates on how your individual requests are being handled, and what action is taken to resolve them. The overwhelming volume of responses means it’s taking us a while to prioritise and get through them, but I can assure you that we are looking at each one – and you can expect to see feedback very soon. We are also taking steps to improve this website so that the progress and outcome for each request will be visible to all – more on this later ….

Our paper calling for an Open National Address Dataset has received strong support from many corners, ODUG members and I would like to thank those of you who have publicly voiced your support and I would also like to thank those of you who have sent me personal messages to encourage ODUG to keep up the good work in this area! We will! The paper is prompting some really focussed discussions about the path forward, at all levels of Government and was also discussed at the Data Strategy Board (DSB) on 28 November.

Also at the November DSB ODUG presented a series of recommendations, based on the data requests we have received and prioritised, on other data that should be released for free. These were:

  • Support the request to release a National Address Dataset as set out in the ODUG paper published on 1st November 2012 as well as further work to build a full understanding of the benefits of this to the economy.
  • Develop the rationale for the release of all historic Land Registry Price Paid information prior to April 2012 by the Land Registry, via the Public Data Group (PDG).
  • Set out the rationale for the release of all UK Met Office hourly weather observations prior to November 2011 by the Met Office, via the PDG.
  • Set out the rationale for the release of the UK VAT Register as open data by HMRC (via their Tax Transparency Sector Board and Ministers).
  • Raise the issues relating to reduce the restriction of third party IPR in the release of open data with particular reference to Ordnance Survey derived data. Strategic rationales for two datasets in this category have been developed resulting in two specific recommendations to the DSB which are:
    • To seek transparency from the PDG on costs of the Ordnance Survey Rights of Way (RoW) business case, for OS to release national RoW data set and for local authorities to release RoW data under OGL
    • To ask the Ordnance Survey and the Environment Agency to create a generalised River Network map as part of medium and small scale location infrastructure under an open government licence.

The DSB supports these recommendations as options for further discussion and will be passing them on to the various data custodians for their comments and feedback. We said when ODUG was set up that we would be open, independent and transparent – and so we will publish the strategic rationale for the release of each of these datasets so that a) you can see how we are progressing with the data requests you have submitted, and b) add your comments, insights and expertise on the benefits cases we have already produced. The benefits cases will be published on data.gov.uk on 20 December.

In particular, we would welcome further evidence on:

  • Magnitude of economic benefits of the release
  • Examples of where the benefits will hit – business, public sector, etc
  • Who benefits will accrue to

Please help us by finding the time to engage with the evidence we have put forward in these published recommendations. The quality and strength of the evidence the community can provide helps to push the case for any release of data towards the desirable conclusion. ODUG members have done a cracking job at getting these recommendations past the first hurdle, but the more you can help us push the evidence further the easier the task to argue the case for release.

There has also been an early success - thanks to a request relating to firing range timetables the MOD has released more location data and all firing range data are now published in .csv format and linked to data.gov.uk. It’s a small step – but a good start! Well done to the MOD!

We are planning to make some significant changes to the ODUG pages on data.gov.uk. We’ve listened to feedback and will make the site more interactive. We will also roll out a dashboard functionality for data requests, so that everyone can understand what’s happening to each request and what the process is. And we will set up an engagement tool for the strategic rationales – or benefits cases – we develop for the data requests that require these.

Thanks again for all your input, and I look forward to getting more open data released.

Open Data User Group benefits cases for release of data