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G8 publishes Open Data Charter

Bryan Glick

The G8 nations have declared a public commitment to open data, with a promise to produce action plans for the public release of government information by the end of this year.

The eight leading economies have been meeting in Northern Ireland, chaired by UK prime minister David Cameron.

At the end of the event, the G8 published its Open Data Charter, setting out the principles and best practice they will follow to release more data, in standard formats, for the private sector to use in delivering digital services to the public.

Examples of the datasets likely to be released by the eight countries include crime statistics, weather data, health, housing, transport and education information.

“The world is witnessing the growth of a global movement facilitated by technology and social media and fuelled by information – one that contains enormous potential to create more accountable, efficient, responsive and effective governments and businesses, and to spur economic growth. Open data sits at the heart of this global movement,” said the G8 policy paper.

The charter includes a promise to follow five key principles for open data:

  1. Open data by default
  2. Quality and quantity
  3. Useable by all
  4. Releasing data for improved governance
  5. Releasing data for innovation

The G8 members said they will, by the end of 2003, develop action plans, with a view to implementation of the Charter by the end of 2015.

Writing in The Telegraph, Sir Nigel Shadbolt (pictured), chairman of the UK’s government-backed Open Data Institute (ODI), said the G8 commitment is vital to tackling a number of pressing global problems.

“We need this innovation because we face unprecedented challenges as a society: an increasing population with very different demographics in different regions, environmental security, economic stability, growth and more. We see open data as a crucial part of rising to these challenges. Quite simply, open data is an enabler of freedom,” he said.

“Open government data lets citizens hold government to account for what it spends and the contracts it places, lets us see the rates of infection in our hospitals… and drives transport apps that people use to make their way efficiently around cities. On tax, open data will demonstrate how companies are paying tax, in what jurisdictions and who owns what.”

The UK government has been an advocate for open data, giving £10m funding last year to create the ODI. Some reports have estimated that open data could generate £16bn for the UK economy.


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