Prime Minister commits to new open data on health, schools, courts and transport

As part of our continuing commitment to open up public services, the Prime Minister today committed the Government to publishing key data on the National Health Service, schools, criminal courts and transport. This represents the most ambitious open data agenda of any government anywhere in the world.

The new data will reveal clinical achievements and prescribing data by individual GP practices, the performance of hospital teams in treating lung cancer and other key healthcare conditions, the effectiveness of schools at teaching pupils across a range of subjects, criminal sentencing by each court, and data on rail timetables, rail service performance, roadworks, current road conditions, car parks and cycle routes in an open format for use by all.

The new commitments, set out in detail in a letter from the Prime Minister to Cabinet colleagues, will provide the public with more information about the performance of services they use every day, and to help to drive modern, personalised and sustainable public services. We expect the new data to be useful to the developer and entrepreneur community in serving as the basis for new services and applications, and so help drive economic growth.

All of the new datasets will be published in open, standardised formats, and for free commercial re-use under the Open Government Licence by third parties.

The new commitments follow the publication over the previous year of crime maps and data on government structures and spending, as committed to by the Prime Minister in his first letter to the Cabinet on Transparency in May 2010.

Below, you can see the Prime Minister's remarks at the launch event of the new commitments:

Comments

Transport data requires an open National Street Gazetteer

For the new Transport datasets to be truly useful, it will require the National Street Gazetteer (NSG) to be openly available. The NSG provides the only definitive reference identifier for a street, and NSG references are used for almost all local government street-related records.

Yet the NSG is only available to highway authorities, statutory undertakers and NSG contributors - and then only to those organisations who hold an Ordnance Survey Mastermap licence.

Without full, free and unfettered access to the NSG, it's hard to see how the new Transport datasets will be of real use.

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Alas for the US

"... to help to drive modern, personalised and sustainable public services."

I am glad to see this happening. Being from the US, it's hard not to rue how tragically many states here are abandoning basic responsibilities like this. I wish the US could emulate more of the UK's attitude toward public services.'

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Blind Data

It’s encouraging to see Prime Minister, David Cameron committing to transparency in the way that schools are run. The plan is to publish information, or as the word is: data, regarding the effectiveness in teaching pupils across the achievement range. Obviously, when the Government refers to data, this tends to mean statistical information, and of course there are lies, damned lies and…

On the other hand we are being promised standardised formats and intriguingly, all this data will be free for commercial use. Quite how anybody will be able to make a few quid out of the local primary school’s special educational needs (SEN) successes is beyond me, but who am I to gainsay progress. At the very least, come January 2012, there will be a sporting chance of gaining some insight into an individual school’s commitment to SEN. Doubtless parents of dyslexic kids the length and breadth of the UK will be thankful for that small mercy.

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Yes to data

I'm all for open and honest data release. It's important to be transparent and allow scrutiny. However interpretation can leave a lot to be desired. Take for instance, the ridiculous situation over MMR vaccine a number of years back. A researcher's interpretation of results lead to scaremongering by the press and children died from a disease they should have been vaccinated against. Data is particularly important in matters of health but it must be used sensibly and especially not for political gain.

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Good to see change

Glad to see that David Cameroon has finally agreed to open data,however why is there so many aeras of public interest such as MPS Expenses, banking adnd tax avoidance still under the radar?

Rose

Kick start the economy by shopping!

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From reading the article,

From reading the article, these are large contracts for large systems. While the UK might want to favor open source (which I doubt, but that is a different post), the companies bidding on the projects are pitching existing systems that are then modified. Raytheon, one of the bidders mentioned several times in the article probably doesn't have an open source alternative. Likewise for the other bidders. So, even if the UK were wanting to encourage open source, if the major players don't offer any alternatives to their proprietary or custom offerings, what is the procurement office supposed to do?

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Clarity in Data has to be a good thing

Im one who is firmly in favour of clear and transparent information. I would rather see the raw figure myself and believe i have the ability to interpret them myself. Far too often, data is "adapted" to suit a particular message or aim. I applaud the prime minister for having the openness to reveal this to us all.

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