Giving away government data does not automatically make it useful or valuable to citizens. That was the conclusion of research which found widespread scepticism towards an initiative to publish more public sector information.
Research for data integration firm Informatica found that 66% of people do not believe that government information currently available to them provides real value. Fifty-seven per cent found it confusing, and 59% did not trust it.
People wanted harder data on education, such as examination and Ofsted results, location and catchment area, course portfolio and specialist subjects, Informatica said.
Citizens wanted more information on education (62%), financial services (58%) and public healthcare (52%). "Presenting data on financial services and healthcare in a more digestible system could also improve insight into investment, tax, benefits and local medical services," Informatica said.
The former Labour government harnessed web founder Tim Berners-Lee to front a plan to make more government information available to the public. The idea was that other firms would then use the raw data to develop information packages and services.
According to the Data.gov website, six other nations are opening up government data, eight now offer data sites, and eight US cities have followed suit.
The site reported 236 new applications from Data.gov datasets. It said 272,677 datasets were now available on Data.gov.
Charles Race, vice-president for Northern Europe at Informatica, welcomed the government's Data.gov initiative to create greater transparency of the public sector.
"Having announced its intention, the government still has some way to go to deliver," Race said.
An earlier study asked how UK citizens would like to access government data. It found 43% would like a personalised online web portal, but 33% preferred to access data from individual departmental websites updated in real time with refined search capabilities. "This would enable users to tailor their search specifically according to the information they need," Race said.
The survey of 1,000 citizens across the UK was conducted on behalf of Informatica by LM Research in Q2 2010.