They've got a plan. The UK’s version of data.gov, ably put together by the Cabinet Office, has just launched in private beta.
We got to have a sneak peak, and it’s great! The site is a blend of the US’s equivalent, data.gov, and Directgov | Innovate. It’s got a listing of available data packages, powered by the Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network, and user-generated lists of apps and new ideas. This is just right: the data you need, combined with a way to promote the things you make and a place to get ideas if you’ve got itchy typing fingers but lack inspiration. It’s not perfect. The site is powered by Drupal, with packages catalogued and hosted by CKAN. Speaking of spreadsheets, they’ve even written an app that departments can deploy in-house to convert spreadsheets into RDF (kudos to John Sheridan!) John Sheridan talks. John Sheridan’s role as Head of e-Services at the UK Government‘s Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI) places him at the heart of this country’s enthusiastic drive toward increasing visibility of Government data online.
As we discuss in this podcast, the programme is ambitious but eminently achievable, and builds upon a tradition that has actually been a lot more open than it may sometimes appear. Production of this podcast was supported by Talis, and show notes are available on their Nodalities blog. John describes work at OPSI and elsewhere in the UK Government, and also draws upon his role as co-Chair of the World Wide Web Consortium’s e-Government Interest Group to consider some of the broader issues. He concludes by issuing an invitation to anyone interested in working with Government to ensure that data is made available to a timetable and in forms that really meet the needs of potential beneficiaries here and overseas.
Tom Steinberg talks. Continuing my ongoing series of Talis-sponsored podcasts, I recently spoke with Tom Steinberg.
Tom is Director of mySociety, the not-for-profit organisation behind many of the UK’s most established efforts to increase the transparency and utility of Government information. Have a listen to hear about some of mySociety’s projects, and to learn Tom’s views on the current rush toward greater access to data. As usual, links to the resources we discuss are available in show notes on the Talis site. Related How Open is 'Open' ? Image by Getty Images via Daylife There has been a recent burst of enthusiasm for making raw data produced by and for Government more 'open,' and this must surely be… In "Linked Data" MySociety. Semantic Web Gang. Continuing the Government data theme of my recent podcasts, this month’s Semantic Web Gang conversation also explores the potential for semantic technologies to unlock far more value in the data being put online by Governments around the world.
Have a listen, and see what you think. Related Paul Miller is bound for pastures new In September 2005, I took the daunting step of leaving the safety, familiarity and final salary pension of the UK public sector to join the Senior Management Team of a… In "Administrivia" Radically opening up. Launch. A new website dedicated to making non-personal data held by the U.K. government available for software developers has launched today with the help of Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web.
Data.gov.uk is being slammed with traffic but six months after the U.S. government opened its Data.gov site the U.K. site already has more than three times as much data than the U.S. site offers today. Project update. July 2010. UK pays mashups developers. Here’s a novel concept to encourage open government applications: pay your best developers.
Apparently that’s exactly what the UK’s Office of Public Sector Information would like to do now that it has launched Data.gov.uk. According to a ZDNet report, the agency would like to pay to license mashups when they are used by the government. Free research and development is a common reason for starting an API, for both commercial and government ventures. However, developers do not always feel there is a fair trade. In some circumstances, providers use the license terms to shut down and then copy the most popular applications, as happened with Amazon and Alexaholic in 2007.
The legal framework isn’t quite there in the UK yet, as the ZDNet article points out: Gov cloud computing system ? The government has unveiled a sweeping strategy to create its own internal "cloud computing" system – such as that used by Google, Microsoft and Amazon – as part of a radical plan that it claims could save up to £3.2bn a year from an annual bill of at least £16bn.
The key part of the new strategy, outlined by the Cabinet Office minister Angela Smith, will be the concentration of government computing power into a series of about a dozen highly secure data centres, each costing up to £250m to build, which will replace more than 500 presently used by central government, police forces and local authorities. The government will also push for "open source" software to be used more widely among central and local government's 4m desktop computers. That poses an immediate threat to Microsoft, whose Windows operating system and Office applications suite is at present firmly embedded as the standard on PCs in government, such as the NHS, which is one of the largest users in Europe.