Government to publish new public datasets

Government IT

Government to publish new public datasets

Kathleen Hall

The government is to release a new tranche of public datasets, including information on healthcare, travel and the weather, chancellor George Osborne is to announce in his Growth Review tomorrow.

The announcement will be made during Osborne’s autumn statement, which is expected to provide a roadmap to kick-start the UK’s flagging economy. Osborne also intends to channel £5bn into rebuilding the country’s ageing infrastructure, according to reports.


The public datasets will be released for free to allow developers to create smartphone apps.

As part of the plans, the government will create a data services system for healthcare to link datasets from GPs and hospitals. This will provide the health service, pharmaceutical and other professionals with information about the journeys of patients through the care system and the outcomes of different treatments, said the government.

Data will also be released showing the running of trains and planned or real-time information at all 350,000 bus stops. The Department for Transport will work with Network Rail and the transport industry to make real-time running data available from April 2012.

Other measures include the Met Office releasing a large proportion of the Public Weather Service weather forecast and real-time observations on Tuesday. From March 2012, Land Registry will also make available “Price Paid information” showing all residential property sales in England and Wales at address level.

Under the government’s transparency initiative, an Open Data Institute will be opened in Shoreditch, east London, which will be co-directed by Tim Berners-Lee and Nigel Shadbolt. The government is also to create a Data Strategy Board, which will also have up to £7m to spend on making public data more freely available over the next three years.

A Downing Street spokesperson said the move should help to stimulate growth. "New commitments this week will truly open up health data, as we have seen with the Dr Foster report [the hospital performance directory], to drive up standards for patients, improve effectiveness of care and ensure we deliver a world class health service."

In addition, the NHS will release more detailed prescribing data to support health research and businesses working in health analytics, electronic data management systems and analytical software, and a range of other health-related digital technologies and applications.

It is hoped the measures will encourage innovation and investment in UK life sciences. Consultation with industry suggests that easier access to linked data could increase the amount of pharmaceutical R&D investment by UK-based pharmaceutical firms, said the government.

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