Public-funded bodies must open data, transparency chief tells Demos

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Public-funded bodies must open data, transparency chief tells Demos

Kathleen Hall

All bodies in receipt of public sector funding should be made to open up their data, said Tim Kelsey, the government's adviser on transparency and open data.

Speaking at a conference organised by think tank Demos, Tim Kelsey said government is undergoing a consultation to establish what open data will look like in the future. "We want openness as a point of principle and are seeking to create a rubric around four statements," Kelsey said.

These areas include: making all data available held by public authorities; any service that in receipt or partial receipt of public funds; making the data available for free commercial re-use; and making data accessible in machine-readable formats, Kelsey said. "This is quite a radical agenda and we really need support to make it happen," he said.

Kelsey's proposals follow the government's recent white paper on open public services, which he said has already proposed large outsources for the public sector should be included in the government's transparency agenda.

However, Kelsey's proposals around open data appear to contradict government plans to potentially charge for some information under Public Data Corporations, designed to house datasets to be made available to the public and for commercial use.

Asked where his suggestions would fit into the PDC model, he said there would be a separate consultation on this issue. "There will need to be a good business case for charging for data, and so far it seems that the market value [for the country] is always bigger under a free re-use model," he said. "We're not ruling out payment, we are just asking which will be a better benefit to society," Kelsey added.

Also attending the Demos conference, Ian Manocha, managing director of SAS, said the government needed to prioritise the sorts of data it would make available to avoid a deluge. "We need to ensure the data.gov site is not a dumping ground for datasets. It needs careful thought to ensure that insight can be gained from it," Ian Manocha said.

Recently the government opened up data on the NHS, schools and criminal justice system.

 

Read more about public sector open source strategy


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