Unprecendented access to public data due next year, says govt

The government has announced unprecedented access to public data in a move that it hopes will boost innovation and improve public services.

Over the...

The government has announced unprecedented access to public data in a move that it hopes will boost innovation and improve public services.

Over the next year the government will allow access to large swathes of data, including health data such as the NHS Choices data, public transport data, and Met Office weather service data used for forecasting.

The data will be available through a single access point at data.gov.uk, which will go live in January. There will be over 1,100 datasets available free, from lists of schools to traffic volumes on major roads.

Sit Tim Berners-Lee was commissioned by the government to help develop a single data access point, and the Putting the FrontLine First report, released today, reported him predicting a "significant increase" in economic growth if more public data is released.

Gordon Brown, launching the report, said, "We are determined to be among the first governments in the world to open up public information in a way that is far more accessible to the general public. So I am grateful to Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt for leading a project to 'make public data public'."

By spring 2010, details of how 2008's pre-budget report cash was spent will be published, broken down to local level. Further financial data will be available by the summer of 2010.

Public services performance data will also be available next year, including crime data, hospital costs and parts of the national pupil database.

Gordon Brown said, "Releasing data can and must unleash the innovation and entrepreneurship at which Britain excels - one of the most powerful forces of change we can harness."

The plans involve more work for local authorities, with the report saying, "We will encourage local government to release local public data and make it free for reuse, and establish an open-platform local data exchange."

It added that Professor Nigel Shadbolt will lead a local public data panel to ensure that data are linked effectively across local authorities, the Local Government Association, government departments and agencies.

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