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Open data in the UK: a job half done

Charlotte Jee | Aug. 13, 2015
It's five years since the government started officially promoting open data: has the policy been a success?

National Data Infrastructure

One way to push authorities into cleaning up their act would be to force them to rely upon their open data, according to Shadbolt.

"The best way to get government to really ensure that quality data is there to be had is to also insist it uses it itself.

"So when organisations become dependent on its own data for its own processes, it won't take long for them to sort it out. I think there's a lot of opportunity there with the whole 'eat your own dog food' idea," he says.

Another idea that has gained traction in open data circles is for the government to establish a 'National Information Infrastructure', which the ODI's Technical Director Jeni Tennison likens to a national road network or power grid, but for open data.

The infrastructure would comprise datasets like the Companies House register, all house sales, schools data, procedures carried out in hospitals, to name just a few.

The government kicked off plans to list all the datasets needed for the infrastructure in October 2013.

However it's gone quiet since the election. The official 'National Information Infrastructure' webpage categorises the policy as having been "published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government."

That doesn't mean open data campaigners have forgotten about it though: Shadbolt insists it is a vital next step.

"The need for an open data infrastructure is essential. If we don't have the equivalent for data that we have with our roads, power grid, you won't build a 21st century digital state that is any more than little islands of privilege and monopolies," he says.


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