Open Data Institute: The UK needs a chief data officer

While the UK leads the way with open data, the Open Data Institute has called for more data to be released

While the UK leads the way with open data, the Open Data Institute has called for more data to be released.

The ODI Open Data Roadmap for 2015 report urged the government to create the position of chief data officer to oversee the release of this data.

Founded by father of the web, Tim Berners-Lee, and artificial intelligence professor Nigel Shadbolt, the ODI aims to cultivate a culture for sharing data and nurturing open data ideas.

The report stated: "More uses of data that can be demonstrated and more can be done to improve data quality and literacy."

The ODI believes that open data is the best way to tackle some of the major challenges the UK will face in then first half this century.

The roadmap sets out nine recommendations for the next government, which harness the benefits of open data for improved policy making, and social and economic benefit.

Nigel Shadbolt, chairman and co-founder of ODI, said: "Our roadmap requires continued commitment at the highest levels of government. It needs business to make more of both the government and its own open data. It needs an information infrastructure that contains the best open data to give the UK a digital nervous system fit for the 21st century."

The report recommended that the next UK government develop a data strategy that brings together all aspects of data policy in one place in the Cabinet Office .

Gavin Starks, CEO at the ODI said:  "Now is the time to engage business. Across all sectors, we see the development of innovations that improve our travel, our health, our cities, our environment, and create jobs. We see potential efficiencies that could save billions. We see transparency as critical to rebuilding trust. We need the same standards and rigour applied to public data as are applied to commercial data, and greater support in catalysing private sector engagement."

The report urged government to create the role of chief data officer to develop, advocate and progress all aspects of this strategy. "The chief data officer position would report to the executive director of digital in the Cabinet Office, explicitly aligning data as part of the government’s ‘digital by default’ strategy," the report stated.

Jeni Tennison, technical director at the ODI, said: "Currently, there are a series of disparate teams in government managing data policy and delivery. The creation of the chief data officer is essential to join up government’s need for open data and its publication to ensure that data publication is built in to every digital service created by government."

One of the areas the ODI wanted the CDO to look after is to take responsibility to release important datasets identified through the National Information Infrastructure as open data, taking account of what public bodies and the wider community want and need.

Specifically, the ODI urged government to open up data from Companies House, Ordnance survey, Met Office and the Land Registry. Government departments should be encouraged to consume open data, the ODI stated.

It also wanted to see a mandate that public procurement contracts require the release of open data, in line with the UK’s commitment under the G8 Open Data Charter to ‘open by default’

The report stated: "The Information Commissioner’s Office should oversee regimes governing both access to and reuse of public information, and be supported to continue to improve its services."

Last month the EU  placed €14.4m (£11m) in three open data initiatives. One of the projects builds on the ODI startup programme.

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