Release of Data Fund Update

This is an update on the projects which have been funded by the Release of Data Fund. It is wonderful to see how much data and capacity has already been realised from a relatively small fund through the creative proposals the Open Data community has put forward for ODUG to consider.

The process of selection and due-diligence for the allocation of funding (also checking that the agreed results are being delivered) has been light-touch, but exemplary. This demonstrates how a government funding process can be both robust and speedy. This process was not burdened down with too much bureaucracy; we said “Apply for this money, tell-us what you want to do with it, be sure that you can do it in a few months, be prepared for us to report publicly on what you are doing and whether you are on track, and be prepared to share your results openly with others”. We received over 100 applications for funding and 30 projects were approved.

The Release of Data Fund was announced in the Autumn Statement 2011. There were three open bidding tranches. ODUG was made responsible for collaborating with the wider Open Data User community to prioritise those bids we felt were the strongest and most cost effective. The priority bids were assessed by a decision-making panel including representatives from the Public Sector Transparency Board (PSTB), the Cabinet Office and both the Central and Local Breakthrough Funds. The Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude gave approval and then Cabinet Office officials pushed the bids through the internal finance (small gripe - the slowest part of the process!) to get the funds sent.

Here’s what has been achieved so far through the projects the Release of Data Fund has funded:



What the project delivers

Funding (£k)

Project Status

Tranche 1 – Total £1.5m

Housing Big Data: From Big Data to Open Data

The Housing Association’s Charitable Trust

Anonymised extracts of Housing Association Data released as Open Data



Leeds Data Mill

Leeds City Council

Launch of Leeds Data Mill including a vast number of local data sets released as Open Data and open source CKAN code for other Local Authorities to use



Data downloads from

The National Archives

Makes UK legislation data available for bulk download. Brings UK into line with best practise on legislation data



Local Government Data Incentive Scheme

Local Government Association

Incentive scheme to encourage Local Authorities to release local datasets across three themes (Public Toilets, Planning and Licensing) against standard schemas to start to build open national views of open local data.


In Progress

CKAN Data Issue Tracker

Open Knowledge Foundation

Support for easy reporting of issues with datasets lost, missing, lacking documentation. Allows better monitoring of data repository quality. Available for reuse on CKAN



UK Local Open Data Census

Open Knowledge Foundation

Survey of the availability of Open Data at local and city level across the UK



Public Sector Open Data Training

Open Data Institute

Make foundation level Open Data training available to individual public servants


In Progress

Public Sector Open Data Training

Open Knowledge Foundation

Make foundation level Open Data training available to individual public servants


In Progress

Open Data Procurement

Open Data Institute

Development of guidance and support to enable systemic changes in IT procurement to fully support Open Data in new IT systems


In Progress

Troubled Families Ecosystem

Tameside Council

A ‘local data ecosystem’ to provide standards and a framework that facilitates data linking across policy areas to improve insights and include opinions from citizens and third party sources.


In Progress

Tranche 2 – Total £1.34m

Flood Data

Environment Agency

Enable the release of National Flood Risk Assessment as Open Data to allow wider use and analysis of potential future flooding events


In Progress

Open Addressing

Open Data Institute

Project to deliver a genuinely Open National Address Dataset for the UK based on data which is not subject to third party Intellectual Property restrictions and using a crowd-sourcing approach


In Progress

National Cancer Intelligence

Public Health England

To deliver multiple anonymised cancer datasets as Open Data


In Progress

Trafford Innovation Lab

Trafford Council

A local initiative to bring together stakeholders to identify and release more local data as Open Data


In Progress

Greater Manchester Infrastructure Platform

Greater Manchester LEP, (New Economy Manchester)

To develop an open interactive mapping tool of critical infrastructure in Greater Manchester (GM).


In Progress

Public Access, Births, Marriages, Deaths

Free UK Genealogy

To provide a publicly accessible database of the index of Births, Marriages and Death between 1983 and 2006


Due diligence

Tranche 3 – Total £1.12m

Open Data Publisher Maturity

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

Create a tool for DEFRA bodies to assess their maturity as Open Data publishers



Cambridgeshire Open-Data Partners: Open Technology for an Open Partnership

Cambridgeshire County Council

To spread best-practise in Open Data across a partnership of public sector data owners in Cambridgeshire



Educational Establishments Term Dates Database

Traveline Information Limited (TIL)

To build a database of academic term dates for educational establishments that can be referenced to existing Transport Open Data sources and DfES databases



National Operator Codes Database

Traveline Information Limited (TIL)

To build an open National Operator Codes (NOC) database for transport operators



Buy Social Directory Open Data

Social Enterprise UK

To track government spending with Social Enterprises by assigning URI codes and making them open



Electoral Open Data Publishing Platform and Standards

Open Data Institute

Create an open source platform and a set of tools and standards that are suitable for local and central UK Government to publish open electoral and voting data on the web


Due diligence

Releasing Nature's Hidden Knowledge

National Biodiversity Network Trust

Capture and make available 15 priority biodiversity datasets.  This amounts to approximately half a million individual wildlife observations for England.



Anonymisation Capability

UK Anonymisation Network

To raise the capability of organisations in reducing the risk of releasing identifiable personal information when releasing Open Data



Birmingham Data and Skills Hub

Birmingham City Council

To develop an online hub and tools to release local data as Open Data



Giving patients and service users access to Mental Health Data

Open Public Services Network

To deliver Information about the quality of mental health counselling services as Open Data



Open Data in the Adult Social Care sector


To map and audit datasets to release suitable datasets on Adult Social Care as Open Data



My London

Greater London Authority

To deliver a showcase for linked API accessible Open Data



Improving the Publication of Public Finances

Open Knowledge Foundation

To develop a Spend Reporting Dashboard to track publication and quality of spend data released as Open Data



Bridging the Gap – Enabling and Automating Data Donation

Milton Keynes Council

To work in conjunction with the Open University to develop skills and capacity of Local Authority Data Owners, their partners and the community. Development of open APIs to curate and disseminate high-value datasets as Open Data



Here are some quotes from successful bidders:

“Leeds Data Mill was one of the projects selected in the first tranche of funding from the Release of Data Fund. The support from Government has been fantastic and it’s a great achievement for the city to be recognised as a leader in this field. Leeds Data Mill is working on a series of projects to help us to have greater insight into the city and to effectively plan and manage resources and bring communities together.”

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon (Leeds County Council)

“This funding is fantastic news and has allowed us to be innovative in finding solutions to enhance our open transport data to make it even more useful to our users and customers. This will create possibilities for new and better quality products and services for people travelling in GB”.  

Julie Williams (Traveline)

"Support from the ODUG / Cabinet Office has made a huge difference, allowing us, for example, to provide training in essential data skills to hundreds of people from government officials to activists as part of our School of Data program".

Rufus Pollock (Open Knowledge Foundation)

"The #goodlaw hackathon showed what's possible with legislation data. The RoDF helped us release that data, in bulk, in easy formats to use".

John Sheridan (National Archives) 

“Addresses are an essential part of the UK’s national information infrastructure. They are used in a huge number of datasets, from lists of schools to car parks. Open address information helps to improve data quality and add value to data. This grant will help to explore how modern, collaborative approaches to data management can reduce maintenance costs, improve quality and enhance the utility of address data.”  

Jeni Tennison (Open Data Institute)

Our next challenge is to publicise these projects to make sure best practise is shared. We also wanted to demonstrate to government that it is possible to achieve tangible results really quickly in the technology sector and that things can and do go right with technical projects if they are approached with the right level of specification, expectation and governance. We now want to make the case for further funding to help the community deliver more great stuff!  So please share these results widely.

We will be publishing a full report on these Release of Data Fund projects before the end of the financial year; covering the details of the finished projects (Tranche 1) including case studies and also the latest progress on the ongoing and newly started projects (Tranches 2 & 3).

In the meantime well done to all the successful bidders for these funds – competition was tough!

Heather Savory

Chair Open Data User Group (ODUG)

December 2014