GDS chief Mike Bracken becomes Gov’s chief data officer Mar 26, 2015

ITPRO - The government has appointed its very first chief data officer, revealing Government Digital Service (GDS) chief Mike Bracken will fill the role.

Bracken, who has pioneered digital transformation in Whitehall at the reins of the GDS, will take on the CDO job in addition to his current duties.

He will be tasked with developing a new Government Data Standard, championing the use of open data and promoting data as a key factor in making decisions.

Government launches Open Data Camp to free up public sector data Feb 25, 2015

V3 - The government has made more public sector data available to developers and businesses with the first Open Data Camp.

The facility in Hampshire allows participants to share data with the aim of creating better services for the public and driving growth in data-hungry businesses.

The camp was launched to coincide with International Open Data Day, when people around the world gathered to support and encourage the adoption of open data policies by governments.

New data from the Buy Social Directory, which acts as an index of over 10,000 UK social enterprises, was made available to the camp's attendees.

Opening this data aims to create an opportunity for local authorities and central government to track spending with social enterprises, and identify new opportunities for investment in those enterprises.

Francis Maude, minister for the Cabinet Office, claimed the UK is the global leader when it comes to open data, and encouraged others to follow suit.

Government launches Open Data Camp to free up public sector data Feb 25, 2015

V3 - The government has made more public sector data available to developers and businesses with the first Open Data Camp.

The facility in Hampshire allows participants to share data with the aim of creating better services for the public and driving growth in data-hungry businesses.

The camp was launched to coincide with International Open Data Day, when people around the world gathered to support and encourage the adoption of open data policies by governments.

New data from the Buy Social Directory, which acts as an index of over 10,000 UK social enterprises, was made available to the camp's attendees.

Opening this data aims to create an opportunity for local authorities and central government to track spending with social enterprises, and identify new opportunities for investment in those enterprises.

Francis Maude, minister for the Cabinet Office, claimed the UK is the global leader when it comes to open data, and encouraged others to follow suit.

Government Chief Data Officer? We Need an Army of Data Analysts Feb 12, 2015
Huffington Post

- The government is such a great candidate to benefit from better analysis and use of data both internally and externally, given the volume of data available to it. So it was pleasing to see an article by Eddie Copeland, Head of Technology Policy at Policy Exchange, where he argues that the government needs to "fundamentally redesign how it works" to make better use of technology and data. I wholeheartedly agree that it can't just be about "bolting new technology on to old ways of working".


We need a bit of a revolution! Eddie suggests one key factor holding back these improvements is implementing new open standards for data - indeed the government has raised the prospect of a Government Chief Data Officer. This role could have a great impact, but what worries me, is whether the government or public sector overall has the foresight and skills to a) make this happen, and b) make the most of this data to effectively improve systems and services. For both requirements, we need data analysts working throughout government organisations.


Government Chief Data Officer? We Need an Army of Data Analysts Feb 12, 2015
Huffington Post

- The government is such a great candidate to benefit from better analysis and use of data both internally and externally, given the volume of data available to it. So it was pleasing to see an article by Eddie Copeland, Head of Technology Policy at Policy Exchange, where he argues that the government needs to "fundamentally redesign how it works" to make better use of technology and data. I wholeheartedly agree that it can't just be about "bolting new technology on to old ways of working".


We need a bit of a revolution! Eddie suggests one key factor holding back these improvements is implementing new open standards for data - indeed the government has raised the prospect of a Government Chief Data Officer. This role could have a great impact, but what worries me, is whether the government or public sector overall has the foresight and skills to a) make this happen, and b) make the most of this data to effectively improve systems and services. For both requirements, we need data analysts working throughout government organisations.


Threat to Open Data withdrawn by French Parliament Dec 21, 2010

Access Info Europe Access Info Europe and Regards Citoyens today welcomed the withdrawal last week of a proposed amendment to France’s security and access to information laws which would have required background behaviour checks on users of government information.

The proposed amendment was significantly changed in the French parliament on Thursday 16 December following an international campaign by 35 organisations and experts from 25 countries which had raised concerns that the new law would seriously constrain both access to information and freedom of expression. Read the campaign letter here.

Government assessing benefits of data-sharing and open data in banking Feb 04, 2015

Computing - The government has launched a call for evidence on the benefits of greater data sharing and use of open data in banking, in an attempt to support the growth of the UK's financial technology sector.

The government said using open data could lead to more competition in banking and better deals for customers.

Whitehall wants to create a freely-accessible standard for developing software that enables customers to share their bank data with other products or services they use, so that they can benefit from easier ways to pay or special offers, for example.

UK government leads the world for open data transparency Jan 21, 2015

V3 - The UK government has the most transparent and wide-ranging open data initiative in the world, ahead of the US, Sweden and France, according to research by Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s Web Foundation.

The Open Data Barometer is the second survey by the organisation to examine 86 governments' commitments to opening up data in the name of transparency and openness.

The Web Foundation praised the top three nations for their efforts in these areas.

“The UK, US and Sweden remain at the top of this cluster, and at the top of the Barometer overall," the organisation said.

"Each country has placed an emphasis on the economic growth potential of open data and, over the last year, each has continued to develop mechanisms for engaging with private sector data users [such as] the Open Data User Group in the UK."

Open Data Institute: The UK needs a chief data officer Dec 12, 2014

Computer Weekly - 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.

2014 Open Data Index Shows Slow Progress by Governments in Opening up Key Data Dec 09, 2014

Global Open Data Index - Open Knowledge has published its 2014 Open Data Index which shows that whilst there has been some progress, most governments are still not providing key information in an accessible form to their citizens and businesses. With recent estimates from McKinsey and others putting the potential benefits of open data at over $1 trillion, slow progress risks the loss of a major opportunity.

Rufus Pollock, Founder and President of Open Knowledge says,

‘Opening up government data drives democracy, accountability and innovation. It enables citizens to know and exercise their rights, and it brings benefits across society: from transport, to education and health. There has been a welcome increase in support for open data from governments in the last few years, but this year’s Index shows that real progress on the ground is too often lagging behind the rhetoric.’

The Index ranks countries based on the availability and accessibility of information in ten key areas, including government spending, election results, transport timetables, and pollution levels.

EU Boosts Open Data; Open Contracting Data Standard Out Nov 18, 2014

ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - As you will probably have noticed, open data is pretty hot these days. The EU has noticed, too, and is making some serious funds available for this area, as announced by the UK's Open Data Institute:

the EU has committed €14.4m (£11m) to three initiatives to catalyse open data innovation across the region.

1. €7.8m Europe-wide incubator programme based on the ODI’s startup programme

2. €3.7m Europe-wide web data research network

3. €2.9m new academy to train the next generation of data scientists

This is the largest direct investment in open data startups in the world, to date.

Here are some details fo the incubator programme:

EU puts €14.4m into UK-inspired open data movement Nov 07, 2014

Computer Weekly - The EU is placing €14.4m (£11m) in three open data initiatives. One of the projects builds on a startup programme fostered by the London-based Open Data Institute, which was founded by Nigel Shadbolt and Tim Berners-Lee with £10m of UK government funding in 2012.

The EU will invest €7.8m in a Europe-wide incubator, €3.7m in a web data research network and €2.9m in an academy to train data scientists.

Gavin Starks, ODI CEO, said: “This is a decisive investment by the EU to create open data skills, build capabilities, and provide fuel for open data startups”.

The 30-month incubator programme will be funded through the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, which has a chest of €80 billion to spend over seven years (2014 to 2020).

European Commission Launches €2.5 Billion Partnership to Master Big Data Oct 15, 2014

CivSource - The European Commission is going all in on big data by partnering with players in the industry to support a pan-European initiative. The public-private-partnership will focus on creating jobs, lowering consumption and improving healthcare outcomes through big data. The plan is notable as a potential model for similar efforts in the US.

European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes and President of the Big Data Value Association, Jan Sundelin have signed a memorandum of understanding to launch the effort. The EU has earmarked over €500 million of investment over 5 years. Private partners are expected to match the investment at least four times over (€2 billion).

The Big Data Value Association is a non-profit, industry-led organization whose members include IBM, NOKIA Solutions and Networks, Siemens, SAP, and research institutions such as the Technical University of Berlin.

Met Office partners with Open Data Institute Oct 15, 2014

Kable - The Met Office has announced it will partner with the Open Data Institute (ODI) to expand the amount of information it provides electronically to support new weather and climate-focused services and applications.

Under the agreement, the Met Office will become the first UK trading fund to partner with the ODI as a member, in a commitment to make data on weather and climate more freely available.

Poor data quality hindering government open data programme Aug 29, 2014

Computer Weekly - Poor data quality is hindering the UK government's flagship open data programme, intended to reform the public sector by making it more transparent and accountable.

Public bodies have published spending records every month since November 2010 under a coalition programme billed as encouraging voters to become "armchair auditors" and to make politicians more accountable.

But experts say the government's data releases have been of such poor quality that public scrutiny is all but impossible.

A Computer Weekly analysis of 50 spending data releases by the Cabinet Office since May 2010 has shown they were so marred by "dirty data" and inconsistent computer encoding, systematic scrutiny would require advanced computer programming skills.

Ian Makgill, whose company Spend Network has processed 42 million public spending records from 7,500 spreadsheets, said the data was troublesome. "There's a range of problems with this data," he said. "Central government has pulled the wool over ministers' eyes. They don't want the accountability."

He accused some public bodies of "wilful" defiance of the coalition government's data edict. Wigan Council withheld spending data unless ordered under Freedom of Information law, while The Ministry of Justice refused to publish spending data until the information commissioner ordered it in February. Makgill said public bodies feared unfair criticism from tabloid newspapers.

'Big data must operate within data protection law,' says watchdog, 'and here's how' Jul 30, 2014

ZDNet - According to the Wikipedia definition, big data "is an all-encompassing term for any collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process". The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) also believes that big data is a large and difficult area — but for a reason other than its sheer size.

In its first report on big data (PDF), the UK's data watchdog sets out "how big data can — and must — operate within data protection law".

In particular, the report explains how the law applies when big data systems make use of personal information, with the aim of showing "which aspects of the law organisations need to particularly consider" while helping companies "stay on... the right side of the law and still innovate".

Guidance issued to help bolster re-use of public sector information Jul 25, 2014

Out-Law - The European Commission has issued new guidelines on recommended standard licences, datasets and charging for the re-use of documents held by public sector organisations (10-page / 414KB PDF). In the guide it recommended that public bodies curtail licensing restrictions on the re-use of that information. The guidelines do not relate to documents held by public sector bodies in which third party copyright or database rights are contained.

EU tenders for Open Data platform Jul 16, 2014

Business-Cloud - The European Commission has launched a formal tender for SMART 2014/1072 - Deployment of an EU Open Data core platform: implementation of the pan-European Open Data Portal and related services. This promises to be the worlds biggest open data project to data, eclipsing the UK Data.Gov.UK and the US Data.Gov which currently deliver approximately 15,000 and 111,000 data sets respectively.

This is not just about making data available for third party developers and those with the knowledge and skills to extract, sort, curate and import data into their own systems. The EU wants visualisation tools delivered as part of the project. This will make it possible for users of the European Open Data Portal to do their own analytics and create visualisations of the data on the platform itself.

This is likely to be a serious challenge for any vendor because of the underlying processing power required. The successful bidder will almost certainly come from one of the very large cloud providers who will be able to deliver the scalability of processing and storage capability required.

Physical location of data will become irrelevant by 2020, says Gartner Jul 03, 2014

Computer Weekly - The physical location of corporate data will become irrelevant by 2020, replaced by a combination of other criteria, according to a Gartner report.

Gartner said the location of where companies store data will become “increasingly irrelevant” in the post-Prism era, and will be determined by a combination of legal, political and logical considerations.

According to the analyst firm, the number of data residency and sovereignty discussions has soared in the past 12 months, stalling technology innovation in many organisations. These discussions were fueled by revelations of NSA surveillance, it said.

“IT leaders find themselves entangled in data residency discussions on different levels and with various stakeholders such as legal advisors, customers, regulatory authorities, employee representatives, business management and the public,” said Gartner research vice-president Carsten Casper.

Intel, ARM and IBM look to drive IoT growth with Hypercat data sharing standard Jun 27, 2014

The Inquirer - A GROUP of 40 technology firms have developed an Internet of Things (IoT) specification called Hypercat to spur the growth of internet-connected devices in the UK.

The firms, which includes Intel, ARM, IBM and BT, announced the Hypercat IoT specification on Thursday, a project that has seen funding of £6.4m from the government's Technology Strategy Board.

The group said that it hopes Hypercat can encourage an open standards based IoT that will enable sensors and devices to share information more easily and reduce the need for human intervention.

Unlike Google's recent opening of Nest's APIs which means developers will be able to write code to allow for interaction between IoT devices, Hypercat will let applications search for data from connected devices across multiple data hubs and make sense of it without human involvement.

ONS creates single source of open data using Esri Jun 12, 2014

ComputerWorldUK - The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has used open source tools and GIS mapping software from Esri to create a single source of statistical data that can be easily accessed by staff and the public.

The ONS’ Open Geography Portal (OGP) was created in response to the UK government’s push for open data, the most recent census in 2011, which required a large amount of data to be put online, and the European INSPIRE Directive. INSPIRE is an EU initiative that requires member countries to establish an infrastructure that helps make spatial or geographical information available online, more accessible and interoperable.

“Previously, we had a number of different products, some of which we could put on the internet, but some were too large. We wanted to have a single, authoritative data source,” Ian Coady, geography policy and research manager at the ONS told ComputerworldUK at Esri’s annual conference in London.

France becomes 64th country to join the Open Government Partnership Apr 25, 2014

OGP - At the Paris Conference on Open Data and Open Government, Minister Marylise Lebranchu today announced that France is to join the Open Government Partnership (OGP). 

France becomes the 64th country to join OGP, which now represents over 2 billion people around the world. This milestone now means that all G7 countries, except Germany and Japan, are part of OGP. Already a world leader in open data, France launched its open data portal,, in December 2011, allowing public services to publish their own data. In December 2013, a new version of this portal was launched which adds a social and collaborative dimension by opening up to citizens contributions. It now also allows civil society organizations to enhance, modify and interpret data with a view to co-produce information of general interest.

Open data: slow down Apr 23, 2014

The Guardian - Open data is potentially of incalculable value. The capacity to merge and manipulate information from a range of public bodies is already delivering wider benefit that ranges from better policing to environmental protection. It will lead to sharper policy making, cheaper drugs and improved health strategies. More contentiously, it could also develop into a valuable revenue stream for government. Whitehall is understandably excited about the potential. But it is approaching the whole open data project with the subtlety of a smash-and-grab raider.

The private sector answer to exploiting public sector data Mar 26, 2014

ComputerWeekly - The UK government has mounted, and in some cases joined, a variety of initiatives in recent years aimed at open standards, open source software and, perhaps above all, open data.

At government level this means transparency and the ability of organisations and the public at large to access the various datasets they may have a vested interest in.

The UK government joined the Open Government Partnership (OGP) as a founding member in 2011. The OGP was established with a remit to establish "an international platform for domestic reformers", a label which the UK would presumably like to wear, were it not for its own various back-pedalling on open data and Freedom of Information (FOI) targets, due to legacy system issues and other complexities.

EU Parliament rubber-stamps 'irreversible' data protection reforms Mar 13, 2014

The Register - EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding scored an important victory in the European Parliament today after securing support for a rewrite of the 28-nation bloc's data protection laws.

Proposed changes to the DP Regulation secured 371 politicos in favour, 10 against and 22 abstentions. Altogether 276 MEPs voted for the DP Directive while 30 of them abstained.


In a baffling move to win over businesses operating in the EU, Reding said:

Government invests £1.5m in public sector open data initiatives Feb 25, 2014

V3 - The government has announced a multimillion-pound investment fund for public sector organisations that release data for use in community and technology projects.

The funding, which starts with an initial £1.5m investment in several open data initiatives, is lead by the Cabinet Office and the Open Data User Group (ODUG), an advisory group for the access and use of public sector data.

The fund will aid public sector organisations actively releasing the data, and will also go towards training existing staff to incite a "culture change" to improve the future availability of public data. More than 100 spaces have already been awarded to senior public servants who will act as ambassadors for the release of data across the public sector.

Local authorities are of notable interest. The Cabinet Office intends to create a consistent set of methodologies for local governments and city councils to follow when releasing data for third-party use.

100+ cities worldwide join Open Data Day Feb 25, 2014

The Information Daily - The Open Knowledge Foundation's Open Data Day '14 connected 100+ cities on five continents. Vicky Sargent rolled up her digital sleeves at the Birmingham event.

Signing up for Saturday’s Open Data Day in Birmingham I hadn’t realised it was one of more than 100 similar sessions taking place on the same day around the world.

With cities participating across five continents, including six in the UK (Birmingham, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford, and Sheffield), 16 in the US, 32 in Japan, and 14 across Africa, this was a genuinely worldwide happening, with experience shared as it happened via Twitter, Wikipedia and a host of other online tools.

Co-ordinated by the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) the point of Open Data Day 2014 was to get people in cities around the world writing applications, liberating data, creating visualizations and publishing analyses using open public data.

Some first-wave big data projects 'written down' says Deloitte Feb 20, 2014

The Register - Consultancy outfit Deloitte reckons early big data projects have had to be written down because they failed, thanks in part to a “buy it and the benefits will come” mentality.

The source of failure was sometimes difficulty making open source software work and/or integrate with other systems, Deloitte Australia's technology consulting partner Tim Nugent told The Reg. Such failures weren't because the software was of poor quality. Instead, organisations weren't able to make it do meaningful work because they lacked the skills to do so. Integrating big data tools with other systems also proved difficult.


The attempt to develop those skills while also staying abreast of the many changes in the field of big data proved hard for some, Nugent said. Happily, vendors and services providers have since come up to speed and are making it easier for organisations to adopt the likes of Hadoop so they can get big data's enablers working.

Regulation has also made big data projects tough, with Nugent saying “organisations that have pushed the boundaries on personal data use and retention have experienced difficulties in responding to regulatory forces and government scrutiny.”

Tim Berners-Lee leads call for more transparency over mass surveillance Dec 19, 2013

The Guardian - The inventor of the web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, has collaborated with more than 100 free speech groups and leading activists in an open letter to protest against the routine interception of data by governments around the world.

In the letter to the Open Government Partnership, the group condemns the hypocrisy of member nations in signing up to an organisation which aims to preserve freedom while at the same time running one of the largest surveillance networks the world has ever seen.

The organisations that have signed up include Oxfam, Privacy International and the Open Rights Group, and the individuals include Satbir Singh of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and Indian social activist Aruna Roy.

BBC throws weight behind open data movement Nov 27, 2013

The Telegraph - The BBC has signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with the Europeana Foundation, the Open Data Institute, the Open Knowledge Foundation and the Mozilla Foundation, supporting free and open internet technologies.

The agreements will enable closer collaboration between the BBC and each of the four organisations on a range of mutual interests, including the release of structured open data and the use of open standards in web development, according to the BBC.

Open data can save lives by exposing poor performance Nov 25, 2013

The Guardian - Open Data Institute head says governments and businesses should publish by default to increase trust and innovation.

At the Open Government Partnership summit 2013 we spoke to Sir Nigel Shadbolt, chairman and founder of the Open Data Institute and professor at the University of Southampton, about the open data movement and its benefits to both the public and the private sector.

Big data should be part of the UK government curriculum Nov 22, 2013

The Guardian - The public sector must train specialists in big data to boost the UK economy and keep up with other nations.

To remain competitive in a global marketplace – particularly in light of fierce competition from nations such as China and India with increasing investment in technology and training – the UK needs to ensure that it too is nurturing talent and embracing innovative technology.

In June 2013, the UK government published a report – the information economy strategy – outlining the pivotal role it will play to rebuild and strengthen the economy. The report explains how the so-called "information economy" is transforming the way we are living and working and how Britain should respond.

Calls for EU public private 'big data' partnership Nov 11, 2013 - Europe is lagging behind the rest of the world in taking advantage of the opportunities presented by 'big data', an EU Commissioner has said.

Neelie Kroes said that some barriers currently prevent the maximum benefit from being derived from the masses of research data generated within the EU but said that the public and private sectors could "work together" to ensure "economies of scale" could be achieved.

"Put the data together, and the value of the whole is far more than the sum of its parts," Kroes said in a speech in Lithuania. "That's why we need economies of scale. Essential for analysing for meaningful, valuable outcomes. And essential if we are to compete globally. This kind of work needs huge processing power. But the highest performance computers are unaffordable by any member state, even the largest, acting alone. A piecemeal approach would be inefficient, and subscale.  And as it stands, too many companies and public services don't fully benefit, from their own data or from others'. That's why we need to work together. And enjoy those economies of scale."

Show me the money Nov 06, 2013

The Economist - When transparency is the handmaiden to innovation

THE opening bell for open data has been rung. Over the past week, a ganglion of groups has unveiled initiatives in support of freely accessible, public sector information. Together, it suggest that the open data movement has finally come of age. 

The most prominent activity was a high-level meeting in London last weekend of the Open Government Partnership, some 62 countries that ascribe to open practices. Britain committed to creating an open database of beneficial ownership of companies. Initial findings show that around 350 people hold more than 100 directorships apiece in Britain, with instances of individuals holding up to 1,000—a suspiciously large number for anyone to do meaningful diligence, as directors’ must. 

Another big win came from the Open Data Institute, a London-based charity that supports practical number-crunching. In just its first year, it has tapped open data to reveal easy-to-reduce medical expenses in Britain. Last week it announced the creation of 13 affiliates around the world, from America to Dubai. And a report by McKinsey Global Institute calculated the value of open data (including licensed proprietary data) at a breathless $3 trillion from seven sectors, including energy and transport.

Government backtracks on key open data and FOI commitments Nov 06, 2013

ComputerWorldUK - The UK has withdrawn some of its key open data and freedom of information (FOI) commitments in its latest national plan, which aims to boost transparency, participation and accountability in the public sector.

A review of the government’s initial commitments to opening up data to the public found that legacy ICT systems and a conflicting government agenda to reduce regulation were creating problems for the plans.

Government launches National Information Infrastructure Nov 04, 2013

ComputerWorldUK - All public data will be available in a reliable, accessible format.

The government has announced a National Information Infrastructure (NII) that it says will eventually contain all public data in a way that it can be accessed by anyone, in real time.

The creation of the NII is in response to the independent Shakespeare Review of public sector information, which was published in June 2013 as part of the Cabinet Office’s Open Data White Paper. The NII has been announced as part of the Open Government Partnership’s (OGP) Summit in London this week. 

“We’ve developed a process to identify those datasets that are most useful to either business, or civil society, or government, to improve growth, public services and citizens’ lives,” Peter Lawrence, deputy director of transparency and open data at the Cabinet Office, told the summit.

UK needs open data champions, says Martha Lane Fox Nov 01, 2013

Computer Weekly - The UK’s digital champion, Martha Lane Fox, has called for government, businesses and charities to promote the innovative use of open data.

Other countries have shown how developers can use openly published data to create applications that benefit society and the economy.

But the examples seen in the UK so far are on a small scale and need to be broadened out to reach a wider audience, Martha Lane Fox told Computer Weekly.

“Open data is such a fundamental part, I believe, of how we move the digital economy on and how we can engage people who have not yet been engaged,” she said.

Her comments came as consultants McKinsey predicted the growth of open data had the potential to add $3tn a year to the global economy.

Lane Fox identified start-up company Mastadon C – which has worked with Openhealthcare UK to identify £200m in potential savings by analysing prescription data – as an "incredible example" of what could be achieved with open data.

Knight Foundation announces new funding for open data effort Oct 31, 2013

CivSource - A team of American transparency advocates will test a British model for open data standards in the United States, with a little help from the Knight Foundation. The Foundation is giving the US-based Open Data Institute $250,000 to replicate the UK model and determine its effectiveness stateside. The project will be led by open data pioneer Waldo Jaquith.

Spread the gospel! Tim Berners-Lee's Open Data Institute goes global Oct 30, 2013

The Register - The Open Data Institute, an organisation founded by web daddy Sir Tim Berners-Lee and AI prof Sir Nigel Shadbolt, has announced it's setting up 13 "nodes" around the world.

The ODI, which is backed with a £10m cash pot provided by taxpayers and based at London's Silicon Roundabout, was created to help businesses use public datasets on crime, weather, education and other assorted stuff, as released by the government.


The organisation claimed that since it kicked off last year it has been "inundated with requests from around the world, asking for support to set up countrywide or regional versions" of the institute.

Blighty will be getting three additional ODI offices, with nodes in Manchester, Brighton and Leeds. Other regional nodes will be set up in Dubai, Chicago, North Carolina, Paris and Trenton. The ODI is also running two countrywide trials in partnership with NGOs in the US and Canada and another three nodes will focus on communications, based in Gothenburg, Moscow and Buenos Aires.

Ordnance Survey holds free OS OpenData masterclasses Oct 08, 2013

Directions Magazine - Ordnance Survey are pleased to announce details on the latest series of free OS OpenData masterclasses, giving developers the chance to get to grips with digital mapping data and understand how it can support their businesses, products, services and applications.

Following on from the success of the previous OS OpenData masterclass series, individuals, developers, community groups, social entrepreneurs, commercial and government organisations are invited to attend the latest national series of free masterclasses, run by Ordnance Survey and kindly supported by Horizon Digital Economy Research.

Peter ter Haar, Director of Products and Innovation at Ordnance Survey, said: “The masterclasses are a great opportunity for people to experiment and start to develop with Ordnance Survey’s open data products and services. The sessions will provide the attendees with the tools and techniques needed to use, analyse and style a range of open datasets relevant to them.

A century of opening up government gathers pace Sep 30, 2013

The Conversation - The World Bank is to provide a $1.2 million grant to fund the Open Data Partnership for Development, a project with the Open Knowledge Foundation and the Open Data Institute. The aim is to help developing countries to run open data initiatives and to carry out research into how open data can benefit sustainable development.

The partnership was announced at the 2013 OKCon open knowledge conference in Geneva last week.

How to use open data to connect local government with the public Sep 18, 2013

The Guardian - The concept of freely available data is growing in popularity, but how can local government take advantage of it?

Open data is the idea that certain data should be freely available for everyone to use and republish as they wish. The philosophy behind open data has been long established, but the term itself is relatively new and it is gaining popularity.

An increasing number of platforms where people can openly share information have been developing, such as GitHub, where you can share codes and other ideas for open source programming, and WikiHouse, an open source construction set which lets you build your own home from online templates.

Here are a few examples of how open data is being used by local government.

Government digital drive should include procurement of 'big data' expertise, says think tank Sep 05, 2013

Out-Law - The Government should run procurements in a bid to find private sector companies able to utilise 'big data' to make public sector savings, a think tank has recommended.

The Policy Exchange said that the outsourcing contracts should only be agreed on a "payment-by-results basis" in order to help the Government avoid having to "invest significantly in big data technologies on the promise of uncertain future benefits".

The recommendation was contained in a report published by the Policy Exchange into ways the Government can better adapt to the digital age. (77-page / 1.54MB PDF)

Consultation on best ways to open up more public data Sep 02, 2013

Invest in EU - The Commission is asking for help in drawing up guidance and practical advice for boosting the re-use of weather data, traffic data, publicly funded research data, statistics, digitised books, and other types of public sector information (PSI).

Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said: “The open data revolution is all about individuals and entrepreneurs and that includes the giving them a role in policy design.”

Interested parties can contribute until 22 November 2013, and with their input help ensure effective implementation of the newly revised PSI Directive, which aims to ensure public authorities release more information at little or no cost to users.

Government data under attack by Plymouth hackers Aug 12, 2013

The Herald - Plymouth University is at the centre of a campaign to hack into vital government data.

But MI5 is not hot on the heels of the five teenage hackers, and police are unlikely to come knocking at their doors.

The five are happily hacking away at open-source government information with the coaching and mentoring of i-DAT, Plymouth University's digital arts and technology teamnull.

The programmers are part of a nationwide scheme to find and foster young people who are driven to teach themselves how to write computernull code. The Young Rewired State 2013 team in Plymouth join others in 50 cities and towns across the UK.

Tell Old Pharaoh: Let My Postcodes Go Aug 07, 2013

ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - The story of open data in the UK has been fairly uplifting in recent years, as more and more public datasets are released under liberal licences. Even the big holdouts - things like Ordnance Survey - have gradually loosened their grip. The same is true for the Postcode Address File (PAF), which has a surprising long history:

OpenCorporates makes company data public Jul 12, 2013

Computer Weekly - Company data that shows the complex relationships between companies and their subsidiaries worldwide is being made available as part of an initiative to place more government data in the public domain.

OpenCorporates, part of the Open Data Institute established by web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, is publishing data on millions of international companies and their subsidiaries – the first time the data has been made freely available.

The move is one of the first concrete actions to follow the G8 summit, where member states signed an Open Data Charter, committing them to make data available in ways that are easily discoverable, usable or understandable by the public.

The OpenCorporates website uses sophisticated analytics technology to map the relationships between companies registered in different jurisdictions, revealing complex networks of ownership.

It is able to present the results graphically in the form of maps or network diagrams, showing the relationships between companies in a way that is easy to understand.

“The site is an important resource for journalists, shareholders and for credit checking. It is also important for procurement officers and lawyers who need to understand conflicts of interests,” said Chris Taggart, chief executive of OpenCorporates.

Government seeking opinions on latest open data action plan Jul 01, 2013

The Guardian - The government is seeking input from businesses and the public on its latest action plan for open data.

The draft of the second Open Government Partnership (OGP) National Action Plan, which will be open for consultation until 19 September, focuses on developing open policymaking, encouraging openness in local government and promoting corporate transparency.

The UK is this year's lead co-chair for the OGP, an organisation which brings together the leaders of 59 governments with the aim of securing commitments to open data and transparency. Publishing a country action plan is a requirement for membership.

Nick Hurd, the minister for civil society, said the government wanted "businesses, entrepreneurs, civil society organisations and members of the public" to contribute to the process. He said that, by releasing more data, the government is providing the raw material with which small businesses and civil society organisations can have a "real impact on growth and the well-being of society".

G8 Open Data Charter: why it matters Jun 19, 2013

The Telegraph - The international community today pledged to open up government data to more scrutiny than ever before as they signed an Open Data Charter for the first time. Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt explains why every citizen will benefit.

Data makes our world work – imagine a world without the open standards that power the Web, or the GPS signal that powers our sat navs and phones, or the open data that describes the human genome.

The G8 Open Data Charter was unveiled at Loch Erne today, and recognises “a new era in which people can use open data to generate insights, ideas, and services to create a better world for all.”

In recent years we have seen a gathering momentum behind open government data – a global movement to open up public, non-personal data that the public sector collects, generates and holds in our name.

We have seen how hard it can be for governments to embrace this culture. At a time when we face a crisis of confidence in public and private governance, open data can help to build long-term trust, but this will also require commitments to quality and usability.

Even in the UK, where we claim some leadership in this field, we have found it impossible as yet to release critical open data assets, such as the county’s legal addresses, or the boundary data relating to land titles, or basic environmental data such as national flood data.

Commission welcomes Parliament adoption of new EU Open Data rules Jun 14, 2013

Europa - Today the European Parliament formally adopted the updated EU rules on the re-use of public sector information, thereby completing the formal EU approval process.

The Council already agreed to the new rules at the Telecoms Council last week. The agreement on the new text has been reached in only 16 months, showing how all EU institutions are committed to unlock the full potential of the open data goldmine.

European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes said: "Today we can celebrate our efforts to bring government data closer to citizens and businesses in Europe. We are finally getting the much needed legal framework to boost the economy and create new jobs.

After this final endorsement, the Commission will start developing a series of guidelines on the most relevant elements addressed in the Directive, such as licensing, datasets and charging arrangements

Member States will have 24 months from the date of entry into force of the revised Directive to transpose it into national laws Once fully implemented the Directive will boost the data market in Europe by making all the generally accessible public sector information available for re-use. Developers, programmers, creative citizens and businesses will be able to get and re-use public sector data at zero or very low cost in most cases. They will also have access to more exciting and inspirational content since materials in national museums, libraries and archives now fall under the scope of the Directive.

Global Open Data Initiative to coordinate open data projects Jun 14, 2013

The H Open - The Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) has announced the formation of the new Global Open Data Initiative (GODI). Joining the OKF in forming the new initiative are the Open Institute, Mexico's Fundar, the Sunlight Foundation and the World Wide Web Foundation. The initiative is intended to act as a global voice for open government data and to support open data initiatives across the world. It will develop a research agenda and evidence base in support of open data and aggregate resources from across the world. It hopes to become a "central point of reference for governments and CSOs (civil society organizations) interested in open government data."

Big-data confusion blunting business-intelligence spend Jun 10, 2013

ZDNet - All the talk about big data has actually helped dampen growth in business-intelligence spending because of the confusion it's causing among corporate buyers.

After several years of double-digit expansion, which reached 17 percent in 2011 over 2010, the growth in investment in business intelligence, corporate performance management and analytics apps fell back to 6.8 percent for 2012 over the previous year, according to Gartner.

The analyst firm is blaming the relative decline on a poor economic climate and confusion among budget holders about the terms big data, BI and analytics.

The power of big data in Europe May 28, 2013

New Europe - The world generates 1.7 million billion bytes of data per minute, “but the amazing thing isn't just the amount of data: it's what we can do with it these days,” stated EU commissioner for Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes, during the conference “Smarter Data for Europe”, celebrated on 23 May in Brussels.

Kroes defined data as the fuel of Europe's economy and highlighted that if it's available online, it will be used to transform society, generate new opportunities and make services more transparent, efficient and personalised.  

Big data goes from instruments to sensors,  online transactions, email, videos, and other digital sources; and the first step to support it, according to the commissioner, is regulation. Back in January 2012, the European Commission presented its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as well as a Directive, in order to “make it way easier to use and re-use public data, with lower charges and without complicated conditions for re-use,” Kroes said.

Opening public data boosts economy as well as transparency May 17, 2013

EurActiv - Updating the 2003 public information directive to increase the amount of public data that Europeans can access may be perceived as a transparency measure, but it is likely to bring real financial benefits and boost skills in a growing IT sector, writes Dinand Tinholt.

It is no surprise that issues of growth and economic stagnation are top of the agenda for governments, especially in the eurozone. Lost in the cacophony is the recent announcement that member states have endorsed the European Commission’s efforts to open-up public sector data for re-use. The directive expands the reach of the original 2003 public information directive and creates new guidelines around pricing and availability of open data. But, what are the benefits of the new directive for the larger European Union?

Shakespeare Review calls for 'National Data Strategy' May 16, 2013

Public Technology - The Shakespeare Review was launched at the Policy Exchange this morning by YouGov CEO and Data Strategy Board chairman Stephan Shakespeare. 

The report called for the government to devise and implement a 'National Data Strategy' in what he termed "phase II of the digital revolution."

"The first phase was about communication, this phase is about using increased tech capacity to do new and exciting things with data."

Shakespeare went on to describe the competitive advantage Britain has with data thanks to centralised public services that collect vast amounts of data - particularly in the NHS, but much of the value currently remains untapped.

"It's not enough to have a vision, or a policy," he continued. "We have to have a clearly defined, highly visible national strategy – an implementation plan that can be transparently audited.

"Only then can we create a predictable environment allowing businesses, organisations, and citizens to cash in on big data."

So how can the data be harnessed?

'Open Data' Brings Potential And Perils for Government May 09, 2013

WSJ - Open Data: the very name is a virtuous pairing of transparency and science. No one is going to argue against openness, and data has the appeal of nonjudgmental objectivity.

Governments and public officials are rushing to embrace the concept, throwing open the vast panoply of publicly collected information for the digitally savvy to mine and exploit. The poster child of the movement is Mike Flowers, chief analytics officer for the City of New York. By mashing together all of the city's numerous data sources, his team has more than doubled the hit rate for discovering stores selling bootlegged cigarettes and had a fivefold increase in the success rate of building inspectors looking for illegal conversions.

With that sort of track record, it is clear why Open Data is very appealing for politicians. At the last count almost 30 countries—mainly in Europe and other developed nations but also including Costa Rica, Kenya and India—plus a number of municipal areas have launched sites.

However, the use of government data throws up many issues surrounding privacy, policy-making and the uses to which the data has been put. These need to be tackled before simply opening up these digital to all comers.

Open Gov Summit: Bristol aspires to match New York's smart use of data May 07, 2013

The Guardian - We caught up with Gavin Beckett, chief enterprise architect at Bristol city council, to discuss open data and designing smart cities.

This year at the Open Gov Summit 2013, Gavin Beckett, chief enterprise architect at Bristol city council, shared Bristol's story: the council is actively adopting open standards and using open source software – applications where the source code is developed through an open community process, and made freely available to other organisations and users. Open source encourages collaboration and software sharing. We asked Beckett what he thought about the issues and risks around data use, problem solving and open standards.

Neelie Kroes calls for “data revolution” Apr 30, 2013

VPH Institute - Vice President of the European Commission, Commissioner Neelie Kroes, during a speech in Brussels on 26 March 2013, declared “we have entered the era of big data”.

Describing data as the “new oil”, the Commissioner stressed that data has the power to fuel innovation and power and energise the economy.

Open data leaders slam government over postcode privatisation Apr 22, 2013

Computer Weekly - The organisation that was given £10m government funding to increase the use of open data across the public sector has hit out at Whitehall plans to allow details of UK postcodes to continue to be sold for profit.

Newspaper reports claim that the government will allow Royal Mail to maintain ownership of the Postcode Address File (PAF), the database containing details of the 24 million property postcodes in the UK.

The data is valuable for online retailers, banks and other organisations that need to use the location of properties to provide services, especially web or mobile services. Campaigners have long called for the PAF to be made publicly available at no cost.

Gavin Starks, chief executive of the Open Data Institute (ODI), said the decision to keep PAF in the private sector “flies in the face of the UK's commitments”.

The ODI, headed by web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee (pictured) and web science professor Nigel Shadbolt, was set up last year with £10m of public money. Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said at the time that open data was the "next industrial revolution”.

Commission welcomes Member States' endorsement of EU Open Data rules Apr 16, 2013

Europa - The European Commission welcomes endorsement by the EU Council's 'Coreper' committee (EU Committee of Member States' Permanent Representatives) of the Commission's effort to open-up public sector data for re-use across Europe (see IP/11/1524).

Once fully implemented into national law, the revision of the 2003 Public Sector Information Directive would make all generally accessible (that is, non-personal) public sector information available for re-use. Developers, programmers, businesses and citizens will be able to get and re-use public sector data at zero or very low cost in most cases. They will also have access to more exciting and inspirational content, for example including materials in national museums, libraries and archives.

European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes said: "Opening up public data means opening up business opportunities, creating jobs and building communities. I welcome the Council's agreement to this culture change."

The proposed new rules now need to be formally approved by the European Parliament.

EU Proposal for (Nearly) Open Data [Update] Apr 12, 2013

ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - Update: Maël Brunet has pointed out that the press release I linked to below is from 2011; what was actually announced yesterday was that the EU Council's 'Coreper' committee (EU Committee of Member States' Permanent Representatives) has now endorsed the measures announced there. So, nothing has changed from what I wrote below, but another hurdle has been cleared in making the open data initiative happen. All that remains is for the European Parliament to agree, and the rules will come into force. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that any amendments will be included at this stage, so it looks like we only get "almost" open data....

As expected, the European Commission has announced a major open data initiative:

The Commission has launched an Open Data Strategy for Europe, which is expected to deliver a €40 billion boost to the EU's economy each year. Europe’s public administrations are sitting on a goldmine of unrealised economic potential: the large volumes of information collected by numerous public authorities and services. Member States such as the United Kingdom and France are already demonstrating this value. The strategy to lift performance EU-wide is three-fold: firstly the Commission will lead by example, opening its vaults of information to the public for free through a new data portal. Secondly, a level playing field for open data across the EU will be established. Finally, these new measures are backed by the €100 million which will be granted in 2011-2013 to fund research into improved data-handling technologies.

All good stuff. Here are some details:

Commission welcomes Member States' endorsement of EU Open Data rules Apr 11, 2013

Invest in EU - The European Commission welcomes endorsement by the EU Council's 'Coreper' committee (EU Committee of Member States' Permanent Representatives) of the Commission's effort to open-up public sector data for re-use across Europe (see IP/11/1524).

Once fully implemented into national law, the revision of the 2003 Public Sector Information Directive would make all generally accessible (that is, non-personal) public sector information available for re-use. Developers, programmers, businesses and citizens will be able to get and re-use public sector data at zero or very low cost in most cases. They will also have access to more exciting and inspirational content, for example including materials in national museums, libraries and archives.

European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes said: "Opening up public data means opening up business opportunities, creating jobs and building communities. I welcome the Council's agreement to this culture change."

The proposed new rules now need to be formally approved by the European Parliament.

More to move to open source platform Apr 11, 2013

CIO - The Australian government’s technology and procurement division has released a draft roadmap for moving the website to the open source CKAN platform. The shift will begin at the end of April.

“The CKAN platform… is used notably and very successfully by the UK government to publish data and enable better public engagement with government,” Pia Waugh, director of co-ordination and Gov 2.0, wrote in an blog post on the Australian Government Information Management Office Website.

“Finance has had discussions with the team, as well as with open data experts around the world to ensure the refresh is based on global best practice, with a specific focus on the best quality data publishing possible. We will leverage the work of the UK team including the additional plugins they’ve developed.”

Met Office serves 550,000 open data transactions per month Mar 28, 2013

V3 - The Met Office has confirmed that its Data Point service has topped 550,000 transactions per month, making it one of the government's most successful open data initiatives.

The government has suggested that its open data strategy, launched in 2009, will create growth in the UK economy by allowing application developers, individuals and businesses to exploit public sector data in order to improve national services and create new products.

The open data strategy has also been central to the government's vision of opening up the public sector.

The Met Office has spearheaded this plan, and was one of the first government departments to embrace the release of data to the public.

How might we improve the way citizens and governments interact? Mar 14, 2013

KnightFoundation - Crowdfunding to unlock open data - How do we make it sustainable for agencies to open up datasets? Particularly public data on paper, scans, PDFs, etc... Use crowdfunding to unlock the data and engage more stakeholders in the process. In the end, the data is open to all.

Far too much information released to the public in the US (and abroad) remains trapped, inaccessible in aggregate because it is locked in scans, PDFs, image files, etc... Not machine-readable data.

Big data: Why most businesses just don't get it Feb 20, 2013

ZDNet - Despite the buzz around big data, take-up among businesses remains low — because most organisations don't understand how to exploit it.

Many are looking at big data — large datasets from multiple sources — and trying to figure out what it is, according to Gartner vice president and distinguished analyst Debra Logan.

"People have that sense that once things get hyped like this they are somehow behind the curve," she told a London roundtable debate.

"But I would say that 95 to 97 percent of the organisations that I know — outside research organisations, people who crunch weather data, that kind of thing — are in fact only in the exploratory phase right now," she said. "Of that 97 percent, how many are actually going to have big-data issues or big-data benefits?"

According to Logan: "It's almost as if this is a solution looking for a problem."

Public sector staff know open data matters but fail to get government plan Feb 19, 2013

The Guardian - Most public sector staff recognise the importance of open data – but don't understand the benefits of government transparency plans, a survey has revealed.

While 72% of the staff in the survey of open data understanding recognised that understanding data and its uses would be increasingly important over the next three years, 78% did not know about specific government open data initiatives or what their benefits would be.

Of more than 1,000 respondents across the UK public sector, 57% did not know how to access or interpret data sets, and 66% did not understand their personal role in delivering the open data agenda.

Just over half (52%) of those surveyed recognised that ready access to data and data standards would generate new enterprises, jobs and services in the public and private sectors, but 75% did not know what data was available outside their department to help develop new approaches to service delivery.

Making open data more valuable, one micropayment at a time Jan 25, 2013

O'Reilly Radar - Yo Yoshida's startup, Appallicious, is using San Francisco's government data as a backbone.

When it comes to making sense of the open data economy, tracking cents is valuable. In San Francisco, where Mayor Ed Lee’s administration has reinvigorated city efforts to release open data for economic benefits, entrepreneur Yo Yoshida has made the City by the Bay’s government data central to his mobile ecommerce startup, Appallicious.

Appallicious is positioning its Skipitt mobile platform as a way for cities to easily process mobile transactions for their residents. The startup is generating revenue from each transaction the city takes with its platform using micropayments, a strategy that’s novel in the world of open data but has enabled Appallicious to make enough money to hire more employees and look to expand to other municipalities. I spoke to Yoshida last fall about his startup, what it’s like to go through city procurement, and whether he sees a market opportunity in more open government data.

Why sharing data can save services Jan 24, 2013

The Guardian - In the information age, the public sector – as provider of thousands of services to millions of people – handles more information than most. And with increasing amounts of collaboration between public bodies in order to cut costs and improve services, plus sharing with private-sector contractors and partners, there is a growing need to share this often sensitive information or data in a timely, secure and auditable way.

These issues are being tackled head on by the new multi-agency safeguarding hubs, or "Mash", which bring together police, children's and adult social care teams, health services and others to collect and share information on vulnerable children, families and adults.

But there are serious blockages to progress. A survey of data sharing of 33,000 public servants, published this month by the Guardian and specialist public sector information management solutions firm Objective, found that while 90% of respondents had a business requirement to share files, 71% were restricted from doing so.

Google Grants $3.7 Million to Civic Innovation and Open Data Projects Jan 17, 2013

Mashable -, the philanthropic arm of Google, announced it's funding two new tech projects on Wednesday, one to encourage civic innovation and the other to open government data.

The larger of the two grants, a $2.1 million gift, was given to the Sunlight Foundation. The Foundation will use the money to grow its local programming, particularly to create consistant standards for open data in all U.S. cities.

Another $1.6 million was given to mySociety, a UK charity that builds open source codes for local authorities, governments and corporations. The grant money will be used to accelerate building new civic apps.

Matthew Stepka, VP of, told Mashable that these two grants are an extension of's mission to create and spread technology solutions that can make a positive impact and combat major challenges.

Could Governments Run Out of Patience with Open Data? Jan 16, 2013

Gartner - Andrea Di Maio  Yesterday I had yet another client conversation – this time with a mid-size municipality in the north of Europe – on the topic  of the economic value generated through open data. The problem we discussed is the same I highlighted in a post last year: nobody argues the potential long term value of open data but it may be difficult to maintain a momentum (and to spend time, money and management bandwidth) on something that will come to fruition in the more distant future, while more urgent problems need to be solved now, under growing budget constraints.

Faith is not enough, nor are the many examples that open data evangelists keep sharing to demonstrate value. Open data must help solve today’s problems too, in order to gain the credibility and the support required to realize future economic value.

While many agree that open data can contribute to shorter term goals, such as improving inter-agency transparency and data exchange or engaging citizens on solving concrete problems, making this happen in a more systematic way requires  a change of emphasis and a change of leadership.

Digital Agenda: Turning government data into gold Dec 14, 2012

Europa  - The Commission has launched an Open Data Strategy for Europe, which is expected to deliver a €40 billion boost to the EU's economy each year. Europe’s public administrations are sitting on a goldmine of unrealised economic potential: the large volumes of information collected by numerous public authorities and services. Member States such as the United Kingdom and France are already demonstrating this value. The strategy to lift performance EU-wide is three-fold: firstly the Commission will lead by example, opening its vaults of information to the public for free through a new data portal. Secondly, a level playing field for open data across the EU will be established. Finally, these new measures are backed by the €100 million which will be granted in 2011-2013 to fund research into improved data-handling technologies.

These actions position the EU as the global leader in the re-use of public sector information. They will boost the thriving industry that turns raw data into the material that hundreds of millions of ICT users depend on, for example smart phone apps, such as maps, real-time traffic and weather information, price comparison tools and more. Other leading beneficiaries will include journalists and academics.

Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said: "We are sending a strong signal to administrations today. Your data is worth more if you give it away. So start releasing it now: use this framework to join the other smart leaders who are already gaining from embracing open data. Taxpayers have already paid for this information, the least we can do is give it back to those who want to use it in new ways that help people and create jobs and growth.” See Mrs Kroes video quote here.

Open Data Institute to open this week, highlighting big data innovation in the UK Dec 03, 2012

TNW - The Open Data Institute (ODI) officially opens this week and it is “a collaboration between businesses, entrepreneurs, researchers, government and society to unlock enterprise and social value from the vast amount of open government data now being made available”.

That’s quite a mouthful – put plainly, there’s a truck load of open data around, so let’s have at it and see what we can do.

The organisation has some pretty weighty founders, father of the web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton, created it to be independent, non-profit and non-partisan.

So far the ODI has nailed down £10 million ($16m+ USD) over five years from the UK government via the Technology Strategy Board, which invests in tech research and development, and a further $750,000 fromOmidyar Network, the philanthropic investment firm. The organisation is also working toward long-term sustainability through match funding and direct revenue.

Portuguese government adopts OpenDocument Format Nov 30, 2012 - Andy Updegrove - According to a press release issued by the Portuguese Open Source Business Association, the government of Portugal has decided to approve a single editable, XML-based document format for use by government, and in public procurement. And that format is not OOXML.

Instead, the Portuguese government has opted for ODF, the OpenDocument Format, as well as PDF and a number of other formats and protocols, including XML, XMPP, IMAP, SMTP, CALDAV and LDAP. The announcement is in furtherance of a law passed by the Portuguese Parliament on June 21 of last year requiring compliance with open standards (as defined in the same legislation) in the procurement of government information systems and when exchanging documents at citizen-facing government websites (an unofficial English translation is here).

While exceptions are permitted under the law in the case of "impossibility," an agency making that contention must report and justify that conclusion, as well as provide a defense of its proposed alternative, to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, whose decision to grant or reject the request is final. All of the foregoing must be posted at a public portal to be provided for that purpose, and if the request is granted, the determination must be periodically revisited thereafter.

The Portuguese decision is reminiscent of a decision (later overruled) taken by the CIO of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 2005, which sparked a global standards war between supporters of ODF, developed by OASIS, a global standards consortium, and the Open Office XML Format, created by Microsoft. Shortly after OASIS announced that it would submit ODF to ISO/IEC for adoption, Microsoft contributed OOXML to ECMA, another consortium. In due course, ODF was adopted by Joint Technical Committee 1 as an ISO/IEC standard.

Open data group puts its stamp on addressing issue Nov 19, 2012

UKA - Postal addresses - created and owned by the public sector but not available for free reuse - are emerging as the test case of the government's commitment to open data. In its first significant action, the Open Data User Group (ODUG), set up by the Cabinet Office earlier this year to represent users of public sector data, is urging the government to strip Royal Mail of rights to the Postcode Address File (PAF).

With Royal Mail being groomed for privatisation next year, the call will attract high level political controversy.

ODUG says that addresses are so central to our lives that the generation and maintenance of a collection of individually addressed locations is essential to the efficient operation of modern society.

However it says that current arrangements for the National Address Gazetteer do not meet the criteria. Licensing is "complex and overpriced". It is particularly critical of the Royal Mail's custodianship of PAF. "The only reason ODUG can surmise that Royal Mail might wish to keep hold of the PAF would be a future intention to charge more for PAF licences. This option is not in the interests of our society."

Government online data ignored by 'armchair auditors' Nov 12, 2012

BBC - Ministers were "naive" to believe an army of "brilliant people" would spring up to analyse raw spending data for them, a think tank chief says.

The coalition published vast amounts of previously secret data online in the hope that "armchair auditors" would pore over it to discover waste.

But Neil O'Brien, of Policy Exchange, said the new industry never took off as the data was largely "unusable".

The Cabinet Office is attempting to make the data more user-friendly.

5 ways big data can build better governments Oct 24, 2012

Innovation Trail  - How big a deal is big data?

It's pretty big. The question is how we should be handling all the massive amounts of information we’re collecting. The ubiquity of computers and the exponential growth in their processing power has made this a hot topic in just about every field of human endeavor, including government.

Big data touches everything from campaign contributions, to budgets, employment, environmental regulations, and corporate responsibility.


Experts from around the globe are talking about it this week in Albany, at the 6th annual International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance (ICEGOV).

The conference brings together thinkers from more than 50 countries, and this is the first time it's being held in the United States.

On Tuesday a panel discussion on open government delved into how countries can make the most out of releasing data to the public. Here are some of their ideas:

Oracle's Hurd: World is 'drowning in data,' warns of overload Oct 23, 2012

ZDNet - Oracle president Mark Hurd has warned that the growing number of smartphones, tablets and other devices are adding to the ever-growing pool of data, and businesses are struggling to cope with it.

Hold my feet to the fire using open gov data, pleads minister Oct 19, 2012

The Register - Head of the Cabinet Office Francis Maude has told journalists that he wants them to pore over government data and hold the feet of ministers "against the fire".

Opening a conference to mark the Open Government Partnership today, he gave a rallying cry to the media everywhere to use data to hold governments to account.

Whitehall will no longer "disguise and deny" he said, but would be pumping out "unprecedented amounts" of data, and Maude wants a lot of people to look at that data closely.

I don’t have any doubt that giving our press a lot of data to pore over will at times be uncomfortable for us in government. But that’s the whole point. A closed door culture encourages complacency at best and at worst corruption.

That’s why I’m issuing a call to arms to the media the world over to hold the feet of government officials and ministers like me squarely against the fire.

His speech is excerpted on the Cabinet Office site and expanded on in a Telegraph article by the minister.

Government data PDF enthusiasts will be 'dealt with', says Maude Oct 19, 2012

The Guardian - Most government departments breaching Coalition's own transparency rules.

Nearly every major department could be in breach of the government's own open data license, after Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude committed to force them to publish their spending data in transparent formats today.

The Minister, in charge of the government's transparency drive, said that departments who continue to publish the data in their annual reports in PDF format would be 'dealt with'.

"Data in annual reports in PDF, that is in breach of our own open government license - and we will deal with that," he said

EU data bosses order Google to sort out privacy Oct 17, 2012

The Register - EU data regulators have told Google that it has to make changes to its new privacy policy due to "incomplete information and uncontrolled combination of data across services".

The regulators, led by France's Commission Nationale de l'Informatique (CNIL), have spent several months investigating the policy, which basically allows Google to mash up all its previous 60 policies into one document and grab data on folks from across their services.

The data authorities said today in a CNIL announcement that Google needed to make the new terms of their over-arching policy clearer for users and give those users an opt-out option for each product so they can stop information being taken from one to the other.

A letter has been sent to the search giant outlining the changes that are wanted, signed by 27 out of the 29 countries' regulators involved. But although the EU is asking for alterations to the policy, it has not yet fined or threatened to fine the firm or accused it of breaking the law.

Google's Peter Fleischer, global privacy counsel, said that it was reviewing the findings.

The Big Data revolution: Big Bang or loud noise? Oct 09, 2012

The Register - Anyone currently employed in any area of the IT business will be aware, however reluctantly, of the considerable amount of effort being put into marketing ‘Big Data’. Well brace yourselves, there's more of this to come.

During August and September of 2012 Freeform Dynamics surveyed 502 IT professional readers ofThe Register to gauge how far organisations have advanced in their adoption of Big Data solutions and the current state of play concerning business analytics. This article looks at where organisations report they currently hold business data, how well they exploit the value locked in their data stores and their thoughts on how things may develop in the near future.

Today the words ‘Big Data’ are currently used and abused in a myriad of ways. From these it is possible to distill the term as shorthand for a number of advanced data storage, access and analytics technologies aimed at handling high volume and/or fast moving data in a variety of scenarios. These typically involve low signal-to-noise ratios, including but not limited to brand monitoring, log file analysis, high volume transaction monitoring for fraud detection.

Data 'tsar' needed to deliver billions in government savings Oct 02, 2012

Wired UK - It's been said that the UK is an information economy, powered by the internet industry, ecommerce and professional services and you just have to walk along the high street or consider ads for "all you can eat data" to get a sense of how our society has developed. In the last decade, we've seen a ten-fold growth in the size of our digital universe -- hefty databases, rich video and photography, vibrant discussions on social media and an ever-burgeoning mountain of email. But what is the value of that growing universe of information -- and what is the potential we could derive from it if appropriate data-sets were to be mashed together and the right questions asked? There's any number of ways of cutting this, but the Policy Exchange estimated a potential of £33billion in savings for the government through using a new breed of big data analytics tools to improve or change the way government services are delivered.

Want some gov data? Just drop us a line Sep 27, 2012

UKAuthority - From today, anyone with an interest in accessing public sector information that they believe will have commercial and social benefits and contribute to economic growth, can submit a request to the Open Data User Group (ODUG) using a new online form at

Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude, made the commitment as the UK takes over as lead co-Chair of the international Open Government Partnership (OGP).

"As the lead co-Chair of the Open Government Partnership, we will use our expertise as a global leader in transparency to help other countries turn their words into actions. Open data is the raw material of the 21st century, a resource for a new generation of entrepreneurs. Transparency drives prosperity and growth. It shines a light on underperformance and inefficiencies in public services and allows citizens and the media to hold governments to account," said Maude in New York on the eve of the first anniversary of the OGP.

Open Data Institute Gets Ready to Open Its Doors Sep 14, 2012

ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - Open data continues to spread around the world - here's a great recentsummary of what's happening where. But simply making government data available is no longer enough: now we need to move on to the far trickier job of doing something with it.

That's essentially what the UK's Open Data Institute hopes to encourage. As I quoted back in May:

The vision is to establish the Open Data Institute (ODI) as a world-leading centre to innovate, exploit and research the opportunities for the UK created by the Government’s Open Data policy.

Not only world-leading, the ODI is the first of its kind anywhere in the world and as such will become the ‘go to’ venue for those countries, companies, institutions and other bodies seeking to understand Open Data, overcome the challenges of publishing Open Data, make commercial gain from Open Data and employ the best technologies to ensure Open Data is exploited in the best possible way.

The good news is that things are progressing, and ODI has filled some key posts:

The big debate: open data Aug 21, 2012

The Guardian - From education to policing, from health to councils – public leaders tell us how they are tackling the challenge of making information available to citizens.

The Commons public accounts committee recently slammed the government's open data policy for releasing too much unintelligible raw data. But releasing more government data is a cornerstone of government policy.

The open data white paper, published in June, states: "From the prime minister down, central government is committed to making open data an effective engine of economic growth, social wellbeing, political accountability and public service improvement."

How is this being translated across different public services? We asked public leaders how they are tackling the challenges, and reaping the potential benefits, of making more information available.

Open data - let's have both the raw and and cooked Aug 15, 2012 - The public sector IT management association Socitm has added its voice to calls for public bodies to publish data in ways that are understandable to the general public.

In a response to this month's report on transparency by the Commons Public Accounts Committee, Socitm says that from the outset of the transparency agenda it has been an advocate for openness. "However, we have also expressed concerns about the confusion between publishing raw data and publishing information in more meaningful and easily understandable formats.

"Raw data and linked data is essential for common data sets to be linked and more intelligent comparisons to be made. It is also the source of the ambitions to allow companies to use government data to develop new applications.

"Raw data is, however, pretty meaningless to the public, as noted by the committee. Some public authorities have overcome this by publishing data in more typical 'document' formats such as PDFs. These look much more presentable, but unfortunately suffer form the inbuilt difficulty to reuse the data.

"Socitm has been clear therefore that public authorities need to publish information in simple and clear formats for the public, as well as publishing raw linked data for reuse by developers and entrepreneurs. We are delighted therefore that the Public Accounts Committee has come to the same conclusion.

Libraries gear up for open data challenge Aug 13, 2012

ComputerWorld New Zealand - Government’s commitment to open data casts libraries in a new role as the channel to a potentially huge information resource for the public, says Ian Littleworth, chair of the Association of Public Library Managers.

This is one of many ways libraries will be “repositioned” as an increasing proportion of their resources and services - and the information in the world that surrounds them - are digital, he says.

The association will publish a strategic document on the changing library scene on Wednesday August 15 aimed at stimulating discussion and focussing the library community’s attention on innovative digital moves that some libraries are already making.

Littleworth gives a foretaste of some of the topics likely to be discussed in the strategy report.

German government publishes study on Open Government Data Aug 09, 2012

Jochen Friedrich's Open Blog -The German government last week published a study on “Open Government Data” and announced that they will follow the key recommendation from the study and set up a pilot for an open government portal which shall be in place by 2013. The study was done by Fraunhofer Fokus and is available on the website of the German Ministry ofDomestic Affairs (Bundesinnenministerium). There are both the full study with over 570 pages and a short version. And the ministry also published the spreadsheet with basicreference data – and to my great pleasure they published it in astandard document version, too, in ODF with the file format .ods. All documents are available in German only.


This is another examples where an EU Member State joins the initiative of the EU Commission for open data – laid down as a key action in the Digital Agenda for Europe and referring to the PSI Directive (Public Sector Information). What is good news: the German study concludes that given the legal situation of today a huge amount of public data can already be made open without problems:


 The benefit of making public data openly available is clearly described. It can help to create innovative new solutions and process optimisation. In general, the study sees that there will be an increasing demand for public data in the coming years. On this basis there are a number of supposed economic potentials for the use of public data which justify to make the data openly available at no or little cost:



Open data must do more for businesses, report finds Aug 02, 2012

ZDNet - The UK government has released large amounts of raw public data without ensuring the information can be used by businesses or the public, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said in a report on Wednesday.

"It is simply not good enough to dump large quantities of raw data into the public domain," said committee chair Margaret Hodge MP. "It must be accessible, relevant and easy for us all to understand."

One of the objectives for the government's transparency agenda is to help businesses develop products and services based on public information, such as those firms developing online products and smartphone apps.

Open data group will have a 'positive impact on public services' Jul 19, 2012

PublicService - Data experts across business, civil society, academia and local government came together in July at London's Tech City for the first ever meeting of the government's Open Data User Group (ODUG). They were appointed with the sole aim to advise what public sector data will have the greatest economic impact and social benefits for the UK and should therefore be made 'open' to the public.

The ODUG is a significant move in the right direction for the government and comes at a time when the public sector really needs better support to help them make the best of what has become a challenging situation. Bringing together government and business in this way is crucial – the concept behind the ODUG is really rather new and when combined with the Open Data Institute and Data Strategy Board, will be revolutionary.

On a day-to-day level, the group will be the focal point for user community feedback on plans to release further data. It will also act as a main point of contact for the user community to report back on successes, or otherwise, of existing data releases.

So, what does this mean for the public sector and public in general? In terms of direct impact, it's two-fold:

European governments race to save money through open data Jul 12, 2012

The Guardian - The UK could save up to £33bn on public spending through better use of data - and the rest of Europe is catching up fast.

Between £16bn and £33bn a year could be saved from public spending if data was shared and analysed correctly, according to a report published on 3 July by the Policy Exchange thinktank.

The UK government's civil service reform plan says a lot about using data more effectively. This is great news. For those of us who work in public service transformation across Europe this reawakening has been some time coming, but we now see administrations across Europe racing to embrace open data and harnessing it to deliver real and rapid value to taxpayers.

Government: Open Data User Group to help unleash the potential of open data Jul 12, 2012

The Information Daily - Today’s first meeting of the Open Data User Group (ODUG) has been hailed by Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, as another important step in the Government’s open data revolution.

The group will advise the Government on what public sector data it believes will have the greatest economic and social benefits for the UK and should therefore be released as open data.

The names of the 13 members of the ODUG – who will meet today in London’s Tech City under the chairmanship of Heather Savory, who was appointed in May – have also been revealed. They comprise open data experts drawn from the worlds of business (including a significant SME representation as well as large national companies such as Sainsbury’s and Experian), civil society, academia and local government.


Data experts could save taxpayers 'billions' Jul 03, 2012

BBC - A team of experts should be set up to ensure public data is more effectively used, a think tank has said.

Policy Exchange said better use of data, technology and analytics could help the government save billions by improving efficiency rather than cutting services.

It predicts the "data force" could save taxpayers up to £33bn per year.

A government spokesperson said Whitehall welcomed the report.

The findings will be presented to Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude on Tuesday, when he gives a speech on the issue at the think tank a week after he launched a white paper on open data.

Inside the Open Data white paper: what does it all mean? Jun 29, 2012

The Guardian - Does anyone disagree with more open data? It's a huge part of the coalition government's transparency strategy, championed by Francis Maude in the Cabinet Office and key to the government's self-image.

And - following on from a less-than enthusiastic NAO report on its achievements in April - today's Open Data White Paper is the government's chance to seize the inititative.

More Some Open Data are more open than others Jun 29, 2012

The Register - The government’s long-awaited Open Data white paper, published this morning, introduces standards for “higher data usability”, according to the minister in charge.

Frances Maude made the claim in the paper, available here, that was published following an extended period of consultation on how government data should be released.

The new standards in question will mean public data is published in re-usable, machine-readable format and rated using a five-star scheme devised by web-daddy Tim Berners Lee.

Mass of government data on public services to be published Jun 28, 2012

The Guardian - Hundreds of pieces of government data about public services – ranging from the success of different GPs treating patients with cancer to where British aid money is spent – are to be published for the first time, ministers will announce on Thursday.

The plans for releasing statistics from every government department over the next year will be published alongside the open data white paper, which is expected to commit the government in future to a general presumption in favour of publishing public sector data, and take further steps toward extending the policy to all organisations which deliver public services, including private contractors.

The Cabinet Office denied that the white paper would announce a review of charging for information requested under the separate Freedom of Information Act, a move that would anger campaigners for greater openness about government activities.

But a Cabinet Office spokeswoman said there was a debate about charging for public service information.

Why Basic Company Data Must Be Open Jun 26, 2012

ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - Last year I wrote about the OpenCorporates project, which describes itself as follows:

OpenCorporates aims to do a straightforward (though big) thing: have a URL for every company in the world.

That sounds quite simple (it's not), but the ramifications are huge, since it provides a way of pulling together data about a company. In particularly, it allows you to make connections between companies, their people - and their actions.

OpenCorporates has just published a new report entitled "The Closed World of Company Data", which is "An examination of how open company data is. Part II: European Union countries" (.pdf.) That pretty much gives the game away: its main conclusion is that company data is almost entirely closed in Europe:

Draft Communications Data Bill: Daft and Dangerous Jun 18, 2012

ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - We knew it was coming, and here it is: the Communications Data Bill (.pdf.). First the good news:

we are submitting the Bill to formal pre-legislative scrutiny by a Joint Committee of both Houses. The Intelligence and Security Committee will in parallel conduct an inquiry into the proposals. We will consider very carefully the reports by the Joint Committee, and the Intelligence and Security Committee before introducing the Bill in Parliament later in the session.

One hopes that the public's views might also be considered somewhere in there. The other good news is the format in which it is being published:

Opening Up About the Open Data Institute May 24, 2012

ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - As I've noted before, open data is one area where the UK government shines - unlike open source, where it has yet to deliver the goods. One of its bright ideas was the creation of an Open Data Institute (ODI), which I wrote about at the end of last year. It still doesn't exist yet, but it does have a Web site with some interesting further information about its intentions.

The most detailed document is entitled "The ODI business plan" [.pdf]. Here are some of the highlights of the ODI "vision":

The vision is to establish the Open Data Institute (ODI) as a world-leading centre to innovate, exploit and research the opportunities for the UK created by the Government’s Open Data policy.

Not only world-leading, the ODI is the first of its kind anywhere in the world and as such will become the ‘go to’ venue for those countries, companies, institutions and other bodies seeking to understand Open Data, overcome the challenges of publishing Open Data, make commercial gain from Open Data and employ the best technologies to ensure Open Data is exploited in the best possible way.

Government publishes Open Data Institute plans May 23, 2012

ComputerWorldUK - The new Open Data Institute will initially support start-ups that use open data to drive economic growth.

The government has today published its plans to establish an Open Data Institute (ODI) in East London.

The Open Data Institute, which will be co-directed by creator of the World Wide Web Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt, was first announced by Chancellor George Osborne last November in his Autumn Statement.

The government has committed up to £10 million over five years to support the ODI, which has been developed with the Technology Strategy Board.

It hopes to receive matched funding from the private sector, for example through corporate sponsorship, donations, research grants and other paid work.

Based in Shoreditch in East London’s Tech City, the institute is scheduled to open for business by September 2012.

Professor Nigel Shadbolt outlines plans for Open Data Institute May 23, 2012

Wired - The government-funded Open Data Institute will focus on incubating and nurturing new businesses wanting to harness open data, training and promoting standards, according to co-director Professor Nigel Shadbolt, who is heading up the £10 million project with Tim Berners-Lee.

Law change opens UK public data for re-use May 03, 2012

ZDNet - UK Parliament has amended UK information law in an attempt to make open data easier for developers and companies to use and commercialise.

The Protection of Freedoms Act, which contained amendments to the Freedom of Information Act, was passed by royal assent on Tuesday. The amendments will see public sector bodies present open data in standardised, re-usable formats.

"The information will be available in machine-readable form, using open standards, which enables its re-use and manipulation — for example, in a spreadsheet or .csv format (a common readable computer format that allows you to manipulate and transfer data easily)," a Cabinet Office spokesman told ZDNet UK in an email exchange on Wednesday. "Examples of documents not in a re-usable form include Adobe PDF documents."

Data will not be presented in raw form, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said in a statement.

"At present, the data issued by public authorities is raw and often unformed," said Maude. "Under the new Protection of Freedoms Act, datasets should be released in a form that can be used and re-used, so it will no longer be necessary to make a separate approach to public authorities to re-use a dataset.

Tim Berners-Lee: Corporations Would Benefit From Releasing Their Data May 03, 2012

TechWeek europe - Tim Berners-Lee has called on businesses to be more giving with their data.

The open data concept closely follows the ideas of open source, arguing that certain information should be freely available for everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control.

The father of the Web, Tim Berners-Lee, is a vocal proponent of the open data movement, having helped the UK government launch, a project to make almost all non-personal government data available online. Our colleagues from caught up with Berners-Lee in Dublin last week, to talk about the benefits of sharing.


US government deploys open data standards created in Ireland Apr 27, 2012

Silicon Republic - The open data movement is in full swing and tools and standards created in Ireland are to prove pivotal to open data employed by the US government. It emerged today that agencies in the US Government have adopted a set of web tools and standards developed in Ireland by researchers at NUI Galway’s Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI).

DERI’s technologies are being utilised by, a portal developed to bring an unprecedented level of transparency to the US government. DERI’s research, which is funded by Science Foundation Ireland, focuses on enabling networked knowledge, using the latest semantic web and linked data technologies.

Local government needs to create a culture of openness Apr 23, 2012

The Guardian - "In our rhetoric, we should separate the politics of public accountability from the technologies of open data," tweeted Princeton scholar Harlan Yu.

His latest paper, written with academic partner David Robinson, is a worthwhile read. The gist of Yu and Robinson's argument is that there are two separate, often confused, open government discussions taking place: one about transparency and the functionality of government; the other over public sector information that is both politically neutral and very useful to the public.

Though the British government believes that the latter can help boost economic innovation and cut the cost of delivering public services, I believe we should be talking about the former.

UK open government data: the results of the official audit Apr 18, 2012

The Guardian - This should be a good week for open government data in the UK. The British government is one of the key drivers in the Open Government Partnership, presently meeting in Brasilia, where it is being lauded for the way it has released a "tsunami of data".

And yet, according to the National Audit Office, all is not entirely rosy. Read between the lines of its report out today, Implementing Transparency, and you will see a government which has been chucking out tonnes of data, that no-one looks at and without a complete strategy. Oh and it's cost an awful lot of money.

Crucially, it found the Cabinet office seemed to have no idea of how much the transparency agenda would cost or what it would do:

Welcome to the Open Data User Group Mar 21, 2012

ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - Back in October I wrote about a UK government consultation on the subject of the proposed Public Data Corporation. The government has now responded with one of its well-written documents [pdf]. Here's part of the executive summary:

New commission to agree open data protocol Mar 20, 2012

Place North West - The government has announced new funding and structures to enable greater release of data from agencies including the Land Registry, Ordnance Survey and Companies House.

The open data movement, led by digital media businesses, calls for release of public information to use for such products as mobile phone applications and online maps. Campaigners say data should be released in raw, so-called open source, form which allows it to be re-used in fresh formats.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said on Monday a new independently chaired Data Strategy Board will advise ministers "on what data should be released and has the potential to unlock growth opportunities for businesses across the UK. At least one in three members of the DSB will be from outside government, including representatives of data re-users."

Open data must not be neglected by local government: Nigel Shadbolt Mar 19, 2012

The Guardian - The public sector's open data revolution will not fully succeed unless more is done with local data, according to professor Nigel Shadbolt, founder of

The open data agenda is not as far as advanced within local government as it is within central government, perhaps due to the fact the open data push originated from within Whitehall, Shadbolt said.

The disparity is "a shame", he told Guardian Government Computing at the Digital London Summit, as data from local authorities - such as information relating to people's environments, schools and workplaces - is often the most important and useful type of information to citizens.

Maude praises UK progress on open data but private sector sees work to do Mar 15, 2012

The Guardian - An "open data" revolution kicked off by a Guardian campaign is gathering pace in the UK. The Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude, is trumpeting the UK's success in making government data freely available - and pointing to examples of companies that have sprung up to create commercial businesses around free data from public bodies.

Maude says that "companies including SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises] and startups are using open data to improve public services and create innovative products." But, he adds, he wants both "data holders" in government and new data-driven businesses to "promote the open data revolution".

Open Data Handbook 1.0 introduces open data Feb 28, 2012

The H Open - To help guide organisations that wish to open their data, the Open Knowledge Foundation has released version 1.0 of the "Open Data Handbook" which "discusses the legal, social and technical aspects of open data". The handbook is targeted at a broad audience, according to the announcement, but has a particular focus on open government data. It began development in October 2010 as the "Open Data Manual" at a book sprint in Berlin, organised by members of the Open Government Data and Open Data in the EU working groups at the Open Knowledge Foundation. It was then added to and refined by a wider group of editors to produce the current handbook.

Intel joins The Document Foundation, pushes LibreOffice Feb 24, 2012

The Register - Intel has begun distributing the open source LibreOffice suite via its online AppUp Store, and has joined the board of The Document Foundation (TDF) – a decision that will have many of the Redmond old-guard fuming.

"I have been using LibreOffice from day one for presentations at conferences and for data analysis," said Dawn Foster, open source community lead at Intel, in a statement. "Our engineers have worked with the LibreOffice codebase to optimize it for Intel hardware. Adding it to the AppUp Center is an obvious extension, and will provide an exciting feature for all Ultrabook users."

While LibreOffice already has a cozy relationship with the main open source vendors such as SUSE and Red Hat, it has lacked a major commercial member. The bagging of Intel, formerly one of Microsoft's closest allies in the technology world, is a major coup, and TDF board member Florian Effenberger said he was "thrilled" with the news.

Commission looks to new standards for public sector data Feb 23, 2012

Euractiv -The European Commission launched this month a consultation designed to streamline electronic public-sector information amid uncertainty as to how new data protection rules will affect public administrations as well as the private sector.


The consultation, which will run for three months, aims to create consistency in how administrative categories – such as people, vehicles, businesses and locations – are described in member states' government information systems.

The exercise is designed to counteract inconsistencies in the processing of information that can result in a mismatch of data when nationals of one EU country receive services in another.

Jury still out on govt document standards Feb 20, 2012

ZDNet Australia - The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) is still undecided on whether it needs to mandate the support of ODF alongside Office Open XML as an alternative document format in agencies.

When the government released the first draft of its whole-of-government Common Operating Environment (COE) document — designed to standardise government IT use for security and interoperability — a row broke out over AGIMO's decision to standardise government agencies onto a Microsoft-centric document standard known as Office Open XML. The open-source community highlighted that alternative office suites like Open Office can't write documents in the Office Open XML format, which would exclude them from use in government as the sole office suite.

AGIMO reopened the issue for comment last January and received a flood of responses, many critical of the government's decision to select a Microsoft-dependent document format.

In the second draft of its whole-of-government COE document, released today, AGIMO said that the final document standard to be used across government was still "to be decided".

Open data tsar calls for change in government mentality Feb 09, 2012

V3 - The government needs to move to a "presume to publish" mentality to keep its much touted open data strategy alive, according to one of its key information advisors, Nigel Shadbolt.

Shadbolt, together with Sir Tim Berners-Lee, was appointed as information advisor in 2009 by the previous prime minister Gordon Brown to help transform public access to government information.

The two advisors have since created, a website that allows the public to access all the government's non-personal data.

At a Data Science Summit, hosted by IT storage giant EMC, Shadbolt told V3 there is a danger the public sector will fail to provide the most relevant information, even if it is available.

Open data consultation exposes IT cost and capability worries Feb 02, 2012

The Guardian - The Cabinet Office has revealed concern over whether the public sector's IT is up to the job of supporting more transparency, from responses to last year's open data consultation.

The consultation, which closed in October, drew more than 400 responses from industry, government and other interested parties. The Cabinet Office asked for feedback on issues including how best to gather and make use of data held by the public sector, how to encourage the private sector to make use of it, and how to bolster individuals' rights to access their own data held by public sector, known as an 'enhanced right to data'.

Questions were raised by the respondents over whether current public sector IT is up to the task of supporting the enhanced right to data and whether organisations are sufficiently skilled.

Privacy worries dog open data consultation Feb 01, 2012 - Concerns about personal privacy appeared in a "significant" number of responses to the government's consultation on transparency and open data, the Cabinet Office revealed today.

A summary of responses to last year's consultation on "Making Open Data Real", says that respondents "expressed concern that the consutlation failed to address the interaction between personal data... with open data, and the potential for open data to have a negative impact on confidentiality and privacy."

While the responses showed "widespread support for transparency and open data" there were "divergent views" on how this might work in practice. According to the summary, published along with all but one of the 247 written responses, respondents asked for more clarity on the government's programme.

Overall, the consultation suggests that the government's open data policy may not be quite as much of a universal crowd pleaser as ministers expect. "On balance, there was support for the principle that public bodies, bodies in recepit of pubic funds, and bodies commissioned to deliver public services should be subject to open data obligations." However there were many calls for exceptions, including early releases of research data.

France launches open data portal Jan 26, 2012

The H Open - France has launched a beta version of an open data portal under the domain data.gouv.frFrench language link. According to a French government announcementFrench language link referenced by the European Commission's Joinup, the web site, which launched on 5 December 2011, makes government data available to the public free of charge and without restrictions. The portal currently provides access to around 350,000 government records, including the budgets for 2011 and 2012, air quality data, a summary of accidents resulting in personal injury, geographic data on more than 3,000 railway stations, and the catalogue of the French national library.

The data published at is released under an open licence (License Ouverte)French language link which allows the data to be used for any purpose. It is mainly provided in easily processable .xls and .csv formats. Businesses, researchers and citizens are being called upon to develop new uses for this public data.

The objective of the initiative is to increase transparency at government agencies by providing the public with access to the data that the government uses as the basis for its decision making. The French government is also hoping that the availability of this data will lead to the development of new business models.

Open public data can drive growth in all sectors Jan 24, 2012

The Guardian - Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude recently argued that access to data can curb public spending; but it should also be an integral part of a more ambitious growth agenda for the UK.

The autumn statement, which announced the Open Data Institute, demonstrated the government's idea that public data – produced, collected or paid for by public bodies – can deliver economic and societal benefits.

The European Commission also published its open data strategy in December. This aims to deliver on the €140bn promise that public data in the EU can enable new businesses to deliver innovative services, improve public sector transparency and efficiency and, ensure decisions by governments are based on greater evidence and insight.

Widening access to public data, regardless of origin or volume, is a necessary first step towards deriving insights to guide policy decisions and create business opportunities. It will not by itself, however, increase administrative efficiency or transform commerce.

By taking three key actions, public bodies can unlock data's full potential and engage citizens and entrepreneurs in innovative ways.

Open data can unlock growth in Europe Dec 22, 2011

Public Service Europe - The digital revolution and explosive growth of the social media culture is transforming the relationship between government, business and citizen. But when times are tough, opening up access to public data to improve the transparency and accountability of public bodies is not typically seen as a high priority.

Now, though, the European Commission has seen the potential of public data – data produced, collected or paid for by public bodies in the European Union – to deliver much wider economic and societal benefits. The commission's strategy, released on 12 December 2011, promises a future in which new businesses create economic growth by delivering innovative services; public administration is more transparent and efficient; and, policy decisions at all levels of government are based on greater evidence and insight. Legislating to open up access to public data, no matter what its origin or volume, does not by itself increase administrative efficiency or transform commerce. But opening up data is a necessary first step towards deriving valuable insights.

By acting on three key recommendations, the commission can unlock the potential of public data and, in so doing, engage citizens and entrepreneurs and reinvigorate national economies still struggling to deliver growth.

Public sector needs to improve quality of information, warns Eurim Dec 20, 2011

The Guardian - Parliamentary group gives cautious welcome to the EU's plans to open up more public sector data.

Sharing data on public services could have serious consequences unless the material has been valued, maintained and protected and the original reasons for its collection have been taken into account, the Information Society Alliance (Eurim), has warned.

In a report on the quality of public sector information, the group says that the drive to put central and local government data online, open to public scrutiny, has revealed the long standing problems with quality that lie behind the reluctance of some departments and agencies to trust one another's data. It adds that it is important that decisions on spending cuts are based on good quality information.

"Meanwhile demands from regulators and government agencies for the collection and retention of data that is not required for operational purposes, but might be needed in future, reduce UK competitiveness and add to public sector costs," says the document.

Data storm: Making government data pay Dec 20, 2011

BBC - Here's the good news: Europe's fiscally squeezed governments are sitting on assets that could be worth 40bn euros ($52bn, £33.6bn) a year.

The bad news is that, to realise those assets' full potential, governments have to give them away.

For free, and without licensing conditions, to all comers, including multi-national corporations as well as to local start-ups.

The assets are gargantuan archives of data that public administrations generate in the course of their public tasks. Such so-called public sector information can range from data sets about the weather and the natural environment to great works of historic art.

Taking open data up a level Dec 19, 2011

The Guardian - Nigel Shadbolt says it's time to accelerate the use of government data in generating innovation.

Data is variously described as the oxygen of the digital economy or the new raw material of the 21st century. So it is good to see that the UK is setting a cracking pace as it opens up government data for anyone to reuse.

Detailed data is made available every month on central and local government spending. Each month reported crime data is made available from every police force at an unprecedented level of detail. There have been releases of geographic data, health service performance data and transport data.

Whenever the data has been released the applications have followed. There are mobile apps that find you a parking space and companies using spending data to advise local authorities on how to get best value for money when procuring goods and services.

Open data push is essential for growth, says Deloitte report Dec 14, 2011

Computing - The use of open data could be a critical factor in determining the success or failure of the UK's growth agenda, according to a report from business advisory firm Deloitte.

But although the move will increase transparency and make government more innovative, responsive and better informed, there are ongoing issues around privacy, the report warns.

Called Unlocking Growth, How Open Data Creates New Opportunities for The UK, the report argues that providing data to the public will bring four main benefits:

Openness: as a result of making raw data easy to access and reuse the government will increase its accountability to citizens.

Innovation: the move will make citizens and government more innovative by encouraging the public and government developers to design own applications and harvest value from public data.

Responsiveness: access to information from social networks means the government can participate in public debate and be more responsive to the public.

Better informed: data analytics will become a core competency, improving productivity, quality and performance in the public sector.

The report follows several big announcements around making data more open.
The best way to get value from data is to give it away Dec 14, 2011

The Guardian - Yesterday European Vice President Neelie Kroes unveiled a new package of policies related to open data and public sector information.

Last Friday I wrote a short piece on for the Datablog giving some background and context for a big open data big policy package that was announced yesterday morning by Vice President Neelie Kroes. But what does the package contain? And what might the new measures mean for the future of open data in Europe?

The announcement contained some very strong language in support of open data. Open data is the new gold, the fertile soil out of which a new generation of applications and services will grow. In a networked age, we all depend on data, and opening it up is the best way to realise its value, to maximise its potential.

There was little ambiguity about the Commissioner's support for an 'open by default' position for public sector information, nor for her support for the open data movement, for "those of us who believe that the best way to get value from data is to give it away". There were props to Web Inventor Tim Berners-Lee, the Open Knowledge Foundation, OpenSpending, WheelMap, and the Guardian Datablog, amongst others.

Open Data in Europe gets a huge boost from new EU rules Dec 13, 2011

TNW - The Open Data movement has received a significant boost today with the announcement of the European Commission’s Open Data Strategy for Europe.

The move, which follows success with opening up public data to be used to create new apps and services in the UK and France, will see the Commission launching a three-pronged Open Data initiative. This will see it opening its own data portal, establishing standards for how open data should be handled across the European Union, and offering €100m in grants over the next two years to fund research that examines better technology for handling data.

Open Data allows developers to take existing public information, such as crime statistics, the locations of public amenities, public transport fares and much more, and transform it into useful tools to make that data more useful. For example, UK Pharmacy helps people in the UK find their nearest drugstore, and we’ve previously covered two teenagers who created a public transport app for smartphones using information made available under an Open Data strategy. Only last month, the UK government announced further initiatives in the UK.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the announcement is the EU-wide standards for Open Data. This will see a number of guidelines by which data should be handled across the Union:

Digital Agenda: Turning government data into gold Dec 13, 2011

Europa - Brussels, 12 December 2011 – The Commission has launched an Open Data Strategy for Europe, which is expected to deliver a €40 billion boost to the EU's economy each year. Europe’s public administrations are sitting on a goldmine of unrealised economic potential: the large volumes of information collected by numerous public authorities and services. Member States such as the United Kingdom and France are already demonstrating this value. The strategy to lift performance EU-wide is three-fold: firstly the Commission will lead by example, opening its vaults of information to the public for free through a new data portal. Secondly, a level playing field for open data across the EU will be established. Finally, these new measures are backed by the €100 million which will be granted in 2011-2013 to fund research into improved data-handling technologies.

These actions position the EU as the global leader in the re-use of public sector information. They will boost the thriving industry that turns raw data into the material that hundreds of millions of ICT users depend on, for example smart phone apps, such as maps, real-time traffic and weather information, price comparison tools and more. Other leading beneficiaries will include journalists and academics.

Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said: "We are sending a strong signal to administrations today. Your data is worth more if you give it away. So start releasing it now: use this framework to join the other smart leaders who are already gaining from embracing open data. Taxpayers have already paid for this information, the least we can do is give it back to those who want to use it in new ways that help people and create jobs and growth.” See Mrs Kroes video quote here.

More and the struggle for open government Dec 07, 2011

Washington Post - The U.S. government has, as part of it’s stated commitment to open government, released open-source code for portions of, the U.S. data repository created as part of President Obama’s Open Government Initiative.

But, for an administration that has struggled to balance its aspirations with its actions regarding greater transparency, is the release the beginning of a deluge, or merely a trickle?

Programmers with the U.S. government have been working with programmers in India since August as a part of the U.S.-India strategic Dialogue to create, “an open source version of the United States’ data portal and India’s [] document portal,” according to a message posted on the Web site.

More UK Open Data Moves - and Why That Makes Sense Dec 02, 2011

ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - In striking contrast with its disappointing performance in terms of supporting open source, the UK government continues to take huge strides in the world of open data. Details about its latest moves are contained in this document [.pdf] that came out of the recent 2011 Autumn Statement:

ECS Professors to co-direct UK's Open Data Institute Nov 30, 2011

University of Southampton - ECS Professors Nigel Shadbolt and Sir Tim Berners-Lee have been named as co-directors of a new world-leading Open Data Institute, established by the UK Government to innovate, exploit and research Open Data opportunities.

The new Institute will be based in Shoreditch, the newly designated 'Tech City UK' area of London, where there is a huge concentration of Web 2.0 start-ups, and it will involve business and academic institutions.

The Open Data Institute is intended to help demonstrate the commercial value of public data and the impact of open data policies on the realisation of this value. The Institute will also help develop the capability of UK businesses to exploit open data opportunities, with support from University researchers. It will help the public sector use its own data more effectively and it will engage with developers and the private and public sectors to build supply chains and commercial outlets for public data. The Government is to commit up to £10m over five years to support the Open Data Institute through the Technology Strategy Board - in a match-funded collaboration with industry and academic centres.

Government calls for public data app developers Nov 17, 2011

ComputerWorldUK - The UK government is urging entrepreneurs to make use of open public data by developing applications that can help benefit consumers and the society. 

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude made the call at an event at Downing Street today where Prime Minister David Cameron was awarding prizes to eight groups of university students who have won a competition to design consumer applications using open public information.

As part of the Silicon Valley Comes to UK programme’s ‘appathon’ competition, students designed applications using health, education and environment data available on the government’s website

The winning tools included ones that enabled people to find local vocational skills training providers, find the local hospital with the shortest accident and emergency waiting times, and to choose schools. These were called Coursehorse, A&Express and SchoolHunt, respectively.

€27bn public data opportunity highlighted Nov 11, 2011

Irish Times - THE OBAMA administration, the British cabinet office and four Dublin local authorities are the “poster children” of a growing worldwide movement to unlock public data, according to researchers at NUI Galway.

Public data, or basic information collected by government and other bodies, is valued at €27 billion across the EU.

However, more State bodies need to realise the potential benefits of making such basic information not only available, but also accessible, an open data conference run by NUI Galway’s Digital Enterprise Research Institute (Deri) heard this week.

Monmouthshire council uses open government licence Nov 08, 2011

The Guardian - Monmouthshire council has opened up data on its website to allow the public to create "useful apps" and re-use its information freely.

The council has decided to adopt the UK government's open government licence, which provides for the re-use of public sector information with a number of conditions attached. Monmouthshire said that it was the first council in Wales to do this. Under the new terms, people are free to:

• Copy, publish, distribute and transmit the information.

• Adapt the information.

• And exploit the information commercially for example, by combining it with other information, or by including it in your own product or application.

Monmouthshire said that developers and other interested parties will be able to use data available on the council's website and build applications that may benefit people living locally.

Open data 'new way of operating', says Francis Maude Nov 07, 2011

The Guardian - Transparency is a new way of operating and the public sector is now more accountable to the public, aided by the release of more than 7,500 datasets, including 800 plus geographical linked datasets via, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has said.

In a parliamentary written answer he said that the government's consultation and forthcoming white paper on open data represent the next phase in its transparency agenda.

According to Maude, the government is moving away from a "simple accountability model", towards embedding openness and transparency as core operating principles of public services.

"The white paper will contain a full impact assessment of policy proposals and the benefits of open data," he said.

Open data: beware the empire striking back, insiders warn Oct 25, 2011

UKAuthorITy - Two central figures of the UK government's initiative to open its data for re-use have warned of the risk of ministers being thwarted by reluctant or apathetic bureaucrats. "There is a real risk of the empire striking back," Andrew Stott, the government's first director of digital engagement and a former deputy chief information officer, said last week.

Stott said that, despite the government's promise to introduce a new "right to data", the campaign for open data is not over yet.

He told the Open Government Data Camp, an event in Warsaw hosted by the Open Knowledge Foundation, that the civil service has a wealth of tricks for diluting the coalition government's pledge to make data available. "We're seeing a move from Bureaucrat 1.0 - the straight 'No Minister' - to Bureaucrat 2.0. That's the one who says 'Yes Minister' but then quietly fails to execute the plan."

At the same meeting, Professor Nigel Shadbolt of Southampton University and a member of the UK Transparency Board said the campaign still had a long way to go. He singled out the Meteorological Office for failing to embrace the new Open Government Licence for re-use of data.. "You can't get primary weather data in the UK."

He urged anyone with an interest in the subject to respond to the Cabinet Office's two current consultations, on making open data real and the policies of the new Public Data Corporation. Both close this week.

"The value of data is in its use, not its sale," Shadbolt said.

European Commission plans pan-European data portal for 2013 Sep 30, 2011

FierceGovernmentIT - A European Commission official laid out Sept. 22 new open-government goals that will facilitate the reuse of public-sector information among member countries. By spring 2012, the commission plans to update its data procedures and open its data resources to the public, and in 2013, the EC hopes to open a pan-European data portal, said EC Vice President Neelie Kroes, while speaking at the OpenForum Europe Summit in Brussels.

The EU data portal will federate existing national and regional data portals, and develop such data capabilities where they do not currently exist across the union, said Kroes.

A formal directive, codifying the EC's plans will be released at the end of November, she said. The forthcoming mandate will set a framework for data disclosure by specifying formats and data license rules. Implementing the initiative will require the EU to revisit specifications in other, previously issued directives on openness. Kroes said that will involve clarifying how principles are actually put into practice and possibly getting "rid of a few exceptions or loopholes."

EC member states told to open public datasets by 2013 Sep 27, 2011 - The European Commission is to make governments across Europe open their datasets by 2013 to give citizens the right to access and use data as they wish.

Neelie Kroes, vice president of the EC for the Digital Agenda, said at an OpenForum europe (OFE) event in Brussels that making data available has numerous benefits for individuals, businesses and governments.

"I am convinced that the potential to reuse public data is significantly untapped. Such data is a resource, a new and valuable raw material. If we became able to mine it, that would be an investment which would pay off with benefits for all of us," she said.

"What could be more natural than public authorities who have collected information on behalf of citizens using their tax money to give it back to those same citizens? New professionals such as data journalists are our allies in explaining what we do."

French Prime Minister encourages greater use of open formats Sep 16, 2011

The H Open - The office of the Prime Minister of France, François Fillon, has announced that he has issued a circular to all members of the French government encouraging the use of free and open formats as part of new government platform The portal is part of a wider programme opening up public data to create a more transparent state and is intended to be the single public platform for the dissemination and reuse of public data.

Report: Involve IT experts in releasing gov datasets Sep 16, 2011

The Register - A review (84-page/927KB PDF) of information transparency and privacy commissioned by the Cabinet Office has concluded that IT experts should help decide whether to release datasets and the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) should have a greater technical awareness.

The review was led by Dr Kieron O'Hara, senior research fellow in electronics and computer science at the University of Southampton. In his report, O'Hara says the involvement of technology experts in a procedure for pre-release screening of data to ensure respect for privacy should be decided on a case-by-case basis. The procedure would include screening of user requests, consideration of potential privacy threats and the maintenance of a data asset register.

The register should set out which data sets were controlled, what they contain, and what decisions have been taken about their release, O'Hara proposes. It could be centrally curated, or kept by individual departments and agencies.

Privacy review sounds alarm on open data Sep 14, 2011

UKAuthorITy - The government's open data programme could pose threats to individual privacy unless immediate steps are taken, an independent review for the Cabinet Office warns today.

The review, entitled Transparent Government, Not Transparent Citizens, by Professor Kieron O'Hara of Southampton University, warns that the distinction between private and public data could be threatened by the government's proposed "right to data". It calls for privacy protection to be "embedded in any transparency programme, rather than bolted on as an afterthought".

"Privacy and transparency are compatible, as long as the former is carefully protected and considered at every stage."

Bus times go mobile with beta test of Countdown app in London Sep 06, 2011

The Guardian - Are you a five-minute walk from the bus stop, and wonder if you should run or just walk to catch the next one? If you were at the stop, you'd know because of the "countdown" systems in place. But now if you've got a smartphone, wonder no longer: Transport for London has made public its Countdown service, which indicates how long it will be until the next bus on any service arrives at a location.

The service's existence leaked out after an internal memo was sent to all TfL staff telling them about it, at Though it was meant to remain in private beta, news of the service rapidly leaked out and was spread around by open data fans. There is also a mobile test version, though it's intended for developers only.

'Support for proprietary OOXML format spurs open source suites adoption' Sep 01, 2011

OSOR - Better support for the proprietary XML format OOXML will make it easier for public administrations to move to vendor independent and free and open source office applications, say the organisers of the LibreOffice/, scheduled to take place in Zürich, Switzerland, on 10 and 11 October.

TransferSummit: Innovation, commoditisation and value creation Aug 30, 2011

The H Open - In the second of a short series of articles introducing some of the topics which will be discussed at the upcoming TransferSummit in Oxford, IBM's Don Harbison discusses the benefits of an open approach to the development of document standards.

Documents are getting smarter. Programming libraries are now available for the automation of document workflows. Semantics can now be enabled at the document element level. Social business frameworks are weaving documents within dialogues, enabling new forms of synchronous and asynchronous document authoring and consumption. The recent donation of OpenOffice to the Apache Software Foundation demonstrates the need for independent communities, for companies such as IBM to be able to both support and contribute to the ongoing development of open software solutions based on open standards.

First of a short series of articles  - TransferSummit: Evolving open innovation in software

Defence bolsters search for open source software Aug 30, 2011

IT News Australia - Discloses year-long 'semi-formal' OpenOffice trial.

The Department of Defence has stepped up its push for open source software to reduce its $100 million annual software licensing bill.

Last week, it joined five other government agencies in forming the Open Technology Foundation, which aimed to facilitate collaboration and interoperable technology in the public sector.

Defence chief technology officer Matt Yannopoulos said the department had been considering open source software for more than three years.

Prior to the Federal Government’s introduction of a more aggressive open source policy in January, Defence had not “specifically encouraged” open source software tenders from the market.

EU-law on re-use of public sector data may include source code Aug 11, 2011

Public Networks - Public administrations in the EU facing resistance to their publishing of software as open source, are likely supported by a European Law, the ‘Directive on the re-use of public sector information’. The PSI-directive, part of member states’ national laws since 2005, obliges public administrations to avoid discrimination between market players, when making information available for re-use. Making source code available as open source is one way to avoid favouritism.

How To Get Open Government Out Of Life Support Aug 08, 2011

Gartner - Beneath the continuing enthusiasm around open government, including the announcement of yet another country (Singapore) and city (Edmonton) building their open data store, and the renewed commitment to open government in the new US CIO’s first interviews, I found two data points that still call for caution.

Government launches open data consultation Aug 05, 2011

COMPUTERWORLDUK -  The government is asking the public to come up with ideas on how the government can become more open.

The consultation, ‘Making Open Data Real’, was launched today following Prime Minister David Cameron’s letter to the Cabinet last month, which announced plans to publish key data on the NHS, criminal courts, schools and transport, as part of the government’s open data and transparency agenda.

“The UK government is determined to have the most ambitious open data agenda of any government in the world. We want to embed this approach throughout the public service and we want to hear from people about how they think we should do this,” said Francis Maude, cabinet minister.

National Archives extends UK government licensing framework Aug 02, 2011

The Guardian - The National Archives has extended the UK government licensing framework, which provides a policy and legal overview for licensing the re-use of public sector information, to cover as many licensing scenarios as possible.

An Open Government Data Licence for the World? Jul 22, 2011

ComputerWorld UK -  Glyn Moody - As I've noted before, the UK government is now arguably the leader when it comes to open data. Of course, that's not really the point: this isn't a competition with winners and losers, but a global effort to open things up. As such, it would be nice if there were more collaboration between the different governments - things like this, for example:

As revealed yesterday, the province of British Columbia became the first provincial government in Canada to launch an open data portal.

It's still early but here are some things that I think they've gotten right.
Open data open to concessions Jul 22, 2011

The Guardian - The debate on freeing up public sector data is becoming more complex, and suggesting the original vision may be watered down.

Until this year there was a widespread assumption that open data meant free data. The government would ensure that mountains of data held by the public sector would be available in electronic format for others to re-use, encouraging innovation in public and commercial services. But questions are now being asked over how closely it should be managed, and whether it would justify a price tag.

EC now tendering for Open Data Portal Jul 20, 2011

EPSI Platform - At the Digital Agenda Assembly workshop on Open Data in June, mr. Khalil Rouhana of the European Commission announced the intention (slide 7) to build a European Open Data portal. Rouhana said that a EC Portal should become operational in 2012, holding a significant amount of EC datasets. It is also planned that by 2013 a pan/european data portal should present datasets published by the Member States.

Today, the European Commission has taken a new step in realizing the European Data Portal. The EC has published a call for tenders to develop the data portal on it's electronic Tender Portal The call for tenders is one of the necessary steps for realizing the ambition of creating one pan-european Open Data portal.

Open government data to generate "vast markets" Jul 19, 2011

Information Age -  Open government data to provide economic, performance and consumer advantages

Open data will generate "vast markets" that will drive the next generation of life sciences, Tim Kelsey, the government's adviser on transparency and open data, told an audience in a speech today.

"There is an enormous economic opportunity with this data," Kelsey told the attendees of think tank Demos's Where Next for Open Data? keynote, adding that he believed open government was the best way to drive the performance of public services.

"Open government as a whole is the most important lever we've got, and open data is an essential precondition of that," he said.

Can the U.S. 'win the future' without open data? Jul 08, 2011 -  “Winning the Future through Open Innovation,” is a progress report recently released by Aneesh Chopra, US Chief Technology Officer, to the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) on the Administration’s Open Government Initiative.The report highlights a number of programs at different agencies that represent a wide variety of open innovation techniques, from opening datasets and APIs to creating incentives for competition or testing and certifying open standards.

Less than a week after the report's release, the Administration launched the Campaign to Cut Waste through the newly-formed Government Accountability and Transparency Board (GATB), an 11-member group which will review and cut about 50% of Federal websites to reduce spending and prevent duplication of efforts.

Ironically,, which is lauded in Chopra’s memo to the NSTC as a “signature initiative in the endeavor” to democratize data lost 75% of its operating budget (the Electronic Government Fund) during the budget compromise in April, prompting the Sunlight Foundation to launch a “Save the Data” campaign. To be clear, the E-government Fund was cut by Congress, not the GATB, which seems at odds with the federal government’s goals of improving accountability, transparency, and efficiency.

'Transparent' PM dishes up more public datasets Jul 08, 2011

The Register - The Cabinet Office's digital-by-default mantra got a boost today, with the government promising to publish various datasets on the National Health Service, schools, criminal courts and transport online.

The move forms part of Prime Minister David Cameron's "transparency" agenda to make public bodies more accountable to taxpayers.

"The new data will reveal clinical achievements and prescribing data by individual GP practices, the performance of hospital teams in treating lung cancer and other key healthcare conditions, the effectiveness of schools at teaching pupils across a range of subjects, criminal sentencing by each court, and data on rail timetables, rail service performance, roadworks, current road conditions, car parks and cycle routes in an open format for use by all," reads a statement on the website.

Data Portals Become Fashionable: Time to Worry? Jul 06, 2011

CUK - Nigel Shadbolt, has played a leading role in the opening up of government data in the UK. By chance, I've just come across a report [.pdf] he wrote for the EU about doing much the same, but on a larger scale. Curiously, this is dated 15 December 2010, but this is the first I've seen it. Either it's been buried deep within the Brussels system, or I've been remiss in catching it. Either way, it's still well worth reading.

Here's the thinking that lies behind it:

Open Data Challenge – a milestone in the development of public sector information in Europe Jun 29, 2011

OpenForum Europe (OFE) and its sister organization, the OFE Academy are delighted to have been involved in the organizing of the Open Data Challenge, a competition designed to inspire developers to come up with innovative and useful ways of re-using public data.

This is a relatively new field of activity for us. We became aware of it a year ago when Nigel Shadbolt, an open data pioneer and collaborator with worldwide web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, spoke about it at our 2010 annual summit in Brussels (2010 Shadbolt presentation).

Opening up government data for re-use has been going on for a few years now in Europe, longer in the U.S.. There have been numerous grass roots events like hackathons and local open data competitions to encourage people to make use of the data that we pay pay for with our taxes, which for the most part sits in civil servants' databases gathering virtual dust.

ODF 1.2 submitted for Candidate OASIS Standard (COS) Jun 27, 2011

OpenDoc Society - OASIS has announced that the OpenDocument Version 1.2 specification produced by the OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) Technical Committee is today entering 60-day COS public review in preparation for member ballot to consider approval as an OASIS Standard.ODF is one of the first standards to follow this new procedure within OASIS.

ScraperWiki and Open Knowledge Foundation win grants to help data journalism Jun 24, 2011

The Guardian - ScraperWiki, the British startup website which enables people to write code to "scrape" sites for public data, has won a grant of $280,000 from the Knight Foundation to help expand its offering to journalists and other users around the world.

ScraperWiki's chief executive Francis Irving received the cheque at an awards ceremony in Cambridge, Massachusetts on Wednesday evening.

Another British project, by the Open Knowledge Foundation, also won funding for a scheme to give greater context to reports about government finance spending.

GPL Faces Test in German Court Jun 22, 2011

PCW - A court case that open-source advocates say could have major repercussions on the GPL opened in German district court in Berlin Tuesday.

German DSL router vendor AVM has taken Cybits, which produces children's Web-filtering software, to court for copyright infringement for selling software that removes AVM's altered modules on the Linux kernel in their routers. The move is an attempt to stop Cybits from changing any part of the firmware used in the routers, including a key piece of free software.

The case could have huge consequences for free software, as both companies use the Linux kernel, which is licensed under the General Public License (GPL).

Digital Agenda : awards for creative reuse of open data Jun 17, 2011

Europa - European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes awarded prizes to the winners of the Open Data Challenge and Hack4Europe! competitions at the Digital Agenda Assembly being held in Brussels on 16th and 17th June 2011. Companies, designers, programmers, developers, journalists, researchers and the general public from across Europe participated in the two open data competitions, trying out their ideas for creative reuse of information held by the public sector and open cultural data. European public bodies produce thousands of datasets every year - from how our tax money is spent to the quality of the air we breathe. This data can be reused in products such as car navigation systems, weather forecasts, and travel information apps.

Open data: top tips on transparency for local authorities Jun 17, 2011

The Guardian - Last year Nesta launched Make it Local, a project to explore the potential of opening up local authority data. Its aim is to bring together councils and digital developers to design web-based services for the benefit of their communities. The Guardian local government network has already reported on the innovative new services that have been designed as a result of this programme. We've already begun to gain some valuable insights, including some tips for developing online services using your own data.

India to join the open data revolution in July Jun 07, 2011

TNW -  Indian government is all set to launch its own public data portal next month.

This portal which has been modeled on, a portal which offers public and government data to the outside world, aims to share non-sensitive data from various Indian ministries for general public use in scientific, economic and developmental programmes.

EU adopts e-govt action plan 2011-2015 Jun 07, 2011

FutureGov - The Council of the European Union (EU) has announced its adoption of a 23 point E-government Action Plan 2011–2015 on 27 May 2011. With greater interoperability, an open government and adoption of emerging technologies, the action plan aims to increase the use of e-government services to 50 per cent of citizens and 80 per cent of businesses by 2015.

OpenDocuments become standard in Russia Jun 06, 2011

East-West Digital News - As of June 1, Russian civil administrative authorities have been accepting documents submitted by citizens in electronic form, specifically in the OpenDocument Format, or ODF, an international standard for documents, spreadsheets, charts, and presentations.

Open public sector information principles now available Jun 01, 2011

Spacial Source - The Australian Information Commissioner, John McMillan, launched the government's eight principles on open public sector information at the Meta 2011 conference in Canberra last week.

The principles were developed by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) through a process of public consultation, and recognise government information as a national resource that should be published for community access and use.
Data, not software, paves the road to riches May 31, 2011

The Register - Matt Asay - Open...and Shut  For those who believe software is a quick road to riches, think again.

As RedMonk analyst Stephen O'Grady detailed in his Open Source Business Conference keynote, the top 20 software companies are relatively low on Fortune 500's totem pole of revenue, and not a single one lands in the top 10. And of the top 20 companies on PwC's list of the top 100 software companies, not a single one of the top 20 has been founded in the last 22 years. Their average age? 47 years.

What this means is that if you want to make a boatload of money in software, be prepared to spend decades getting big enough to catch the world's attention. What the data also suggest, however, is that there are far better ways to make money than through software.

Like data. Or, really, anything else.

Experts call on government to extend open data policy May 25, 2011

V3 - The government needs to overcome its "data hugging tendencies" and keep pace with the expectations of a new web-savvy generation, according to industry experts speaking at the Profiting from the New Web conference on Monday.

Andrew Stott, a member of the UK Transparency Board, explained that the government often decides not to release public data, using the excuse that it is not accurate or is too time consuming a process.

"Sometimes government just has an instinctive feeling not to free up data, and then tries to rationalise it," he said.

Government lures US open data guru May 17, 2011

UKauthorITy - Professor Beth Noveck, former head of President Obama's Open Government Initiative, has been recruited to the UK, Chancellor George Osborne announced today.  Noveck, author of Wiki Government, is an advocate for open data. Osborne described her as "a world class recruit" who will be "working alongside" the Cabinet Office's open data taskforce.

In a speech to Google's Zeitgeist conference in London, Osborne stressed the potential of the web to change both policy-making and the running of services. "If we make the most of this opportunity, there is no doubt that we can significantly reduce the cost of government."

The speech was notable as the first time that Osborne has engaged so thoroughly with the government digital agenda. The Treasury has been seen as a potential obstacle to freeing government data. However his speech highlighted the potential of open data for economic and scientific returns.

More on this from The Register -  Boy George plonks tech centre onto Silicon Roundabout


Preparing the grounds for open data - an area that is moving with exceptional speed May 16, 2011

Jochen Friedrich's Open Blog -  Over the last two days I had the pleasure to attend a most interesting and inspiring workshop on open data. Opening up public sector information (PSI) has been identified by the European Commission as an important way to promote collaborative innovation. And since public data is stored in digital formats this is also a key action item in the Digital Agenda for Europe (DAE).

This workshop was organised jointly by ETSI and W3C within the Share-PSI initiative they both kicked off. IBM had submitted a position paper to the workshop which I had the honour to present. Both the paper and my presentation are available on the PSI website.

The OpenData movement will be a people’s revolution May 16, 2011

Silicon Republic - The emerging OpenData revolution could transform ordinary people’s lives and create jobs as governments and businesses see the merit of opening up their data vaults. Welcome to the people’s information technology revolution.

Get ready to fall in love with technology ... all over again. There’s a revolution coming, it’s a revolution that could potentially empower millions, if not billions of people. But it will be a trickle before it becomes a raging torrent.

You see until now most organisations lived by the maxim information is power. Indeed it is power, but only if you know what to do with it. Imagine instead of holding onto that power you instead empower people to take that raw data that sits on databases and spreadsheets and allow them to do something proactive with it.

Open Data - the UK government story May 06, 2011
FutureGov - John Suffolk finished in the role of Government CIO in the UK at the end of March after five years in the position. I heard John speak in New Zealand recently. He had some powerful advice on the subject of Open Government Data:
Francis Maude outlines Public Data Corporation plans May 06, 2011
The Register - The government intends to have a data policy framework in place by autumn 2011 as part of its preparations for the Public Data Corporation (PDC), according to Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude.
Apps Contest Winners Need Better Government Data to Sustain Innovative Services May 04, 2011

Government Technology - A popular trend ignited in 2008 when the District of Columbia initiated Apps for Democracy, a contest challenging citizen programmers to use open data sets published by government agencies to make useful apps for the public.  

That year, the district offered $35,000 in cash prizes and got back an estimated $2.3 million in apps. Similar open data programs sprouted in New York; Philadelphia; San Francisco; Portland, Ore.; and others. Some of the programs operated as contests, and other cities just made the data available and promised to showcase the resulting apps. Applications came back to help citizens navigate public transit, find parking spots, locate government monuments — even to help map the safest routes for stumbling from bar to bar at night.

But now, three years after Apps for Democracy’s inception, some experts are questioning how useful the strategy has been.

Irish Government called on to open up its data to citizens May 03, 2011

SiliconRepublic - The Irish Government is being called upon to open up all data to citizens and enterprising software developers in a move that could drive a raft of new services to citizens, eradicate logjams and lead to greater accountability.

By embracing open data principles, open source technology and cloud computing, it is envisaged Ireland could follow in the steps of the US Government and European nations like Norway that have embraced open data principles to great success.

Tim Berners-Lee: Coalition mustn't be 'lazy' on open data Apr 19, 2011

The Register -  The inventor of the World Wide Web told The Register today that it would be a great disappointment to see open data projects such as the example, and the seemingly doomed version over in the US, closed in an effort to cut costs.

"What would be a shame would be if people use 'depend on money' as an excuse to be lazy and not be transparent," Tim Berners-Lee told us at a W3C media event in Oxford.

However, he thinks that – which was recently flagged to be quietly wound down by the US government with the so-called Electronic Government Fund budget being cut from a proposed $35m to a small-fry $8m – will come under lots of pressure to keep it running.

IBM paints the cloud-scape blue Apr 11, 2011

The Register - IBM has backed the creation of a standards body that comprises 40 "leading cloud organisations" but none of its main rivals in the battle to dominate the next big thing in computing.

The Cloud Standards Council was wafted into public view as Big Blue unveiled a slew of cloud products and services and reset its stall to grab [big] customer spend.

Open data challenge: Europe's biggest ever public data competition Apr 07, 2011

The Guardian - Money prizes for discovering and using data in Europe's biggest public data competition.

The Open Data Challenge launches this week, with 20,000 Euros worth of prize money up for grabs. We were curious about the competition and received the following answer to our questions.

IEEE Targets Cloud Interoperability Standards Apr 07, 2011

 InformationWeek - The venerable IEEE is wading into the chaotic and roiled realm of cloud computing, seeking to set standards through a cloud computing initiative launched Monday that will focus on cloud interoperability.

IEEE is the professional engineering organization that formulated 802.11 Ethernet, which became the standard for the global implementation of Wi-Fi, David Bernstein, chairman of the initiative's two working groups that were announced Monday, noted in an interview.

The working groups are: P2301, chartered to draft a standard for establishing portability, or the ability of a workload sent to one cloud to be moved into another. Its output will be known as a "Draft Guide for Cloud Portability and Interoperability Profiles." The second working group, P2302, will concentrate on allowing a system in one cloud to work with a system in another. It will produce a draft standard for "Intercloud Interoperability and Federation."


EU must look to the cloud for IT strategy Apr 05, 2011

PS - Public Service Europe - The European Commission can learn a great deal from the British government's new IT strategy and its focus on open source, the cloud and small suppliers – Graham Taylor argues.

Last week, the British government published its long-awaited IT strategy. It comes after a string of announcements by senior officials all pointing in the same direction. What we have is a well-articulated plan, backed up by a series of promises on specific actions that give us confidence that previous fine words will now be matched by delivery.

Document Freedom Day - Wednesday 30th March Mar 29, 2011

DFD 2011      


DFD's main goals are:

         - promotion and adoption of free document formats

         - forming a global network

         - coordination of activities on last Wednesday of March, Document Freedom Day

Once a year, we celebrate Document Freedom Day as a global community. On those days, DFD will be focused  on facilitating community action and building awareness  for issues of Document Freedom and Open Standards. We hope  that you will join the DFD community.

Events for Document Freedom Day

Cloud computing needs tighter regulation, says EU Mar 29, 2011

THINQ - Europe could be on the brink of a multi-billion euro investment in cloud computing - but a senior figures has warned that it could come hand in hand with a massive increase in market regulation. Neelie Kroes, European Commission vice-president for the digital agenda, laid out the EU's proposals for cloud computing in a blog post on Friday, declaring that Europe needed to become not just "cloud-friendly" but "cloud-active". "I think the Cloud is critical to Europe's growth, and essential for making the best internet available to all," Kroes explained.

The commissioner set out the three key principles she says will guide Europe's thinking on cloud computing: establishing a clear legal framework, standardising data formats and the APIs used to tap into cloud-based services, and driving the use of the cloud by the public and private sector.

And she issued a stark warning about what could happen if Europe gets its cloud strategy wrong.

Opening business minds to open data Mar 29, 2011

University of Southampton - The new Google magazine, 'Think Quarterly', features an article in its first edition by Nigel Shadbolt, Professor of Artificial Intelligence in ECS-Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton.

Since 2009 Professor Shadbolt has been working with Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, ECS Professor and inventor of the World Wide Web, as advisers to UK Government and leading advocates of the ‘open data’ movement. They developed the website, which provides a single point of access to thousands of UK government datasets, and which has focused interest worldwide on the benefits of freeing up public data for business and citizens.

In the article in 'Think Quarterly' - 'Open for Business', Professor Shadbolt explains the scope and challenges of obtaining and publishing non-personal public data in a format that enables it to be re-used for public good, citing examples such as Who’s Lobbying, which reveals the many special interest groups which are aiming to influence government ministers, and TravelOptions which provides information to help citizens find their way round London.

OASIS ODF 1.2 Committee Specification Approved Mar 28, 2011

Rob Weir - A few quick ODF updates.  We have a number of projects moving forward at multiple levels.

First, just last week the OASIS ODF TC approved the ODF 1.2 Committee Specification.  This is the highest level of approval we can give to the specification in the technical committee.

Microsoft's embrace of ODF cautiously welcomed Mar 11, 2011

ITWorld - Despite years of bitter criticism, Microsoft resisted putting native support for ODF in Office, instead supporting projects to create translators. Sun Microsystems developed one of those translators, which allows users to save in ODF in Microsoft Office 2003.

...In the meantime, ODF could gain wider support, wrote ODF supporter Andrew Updegrove, an open-source and open-standards attorney with Gesmer Updegrove in Boston.

Google Cloud Connect: The limits of a Microsoft makeover Feb 28, 2011

The Register - Google's new Microsoft Office plugin is meant to woo existing Microsoft users onto Google Apps, Mountain View's suite of (completely) web-based business applications. But the bridge it lays between the two competing platforms goes only so far.

Document Foundation seeks set-up funds Feb 21, 2011

H Open - The Document Foundation has announced that it is now seeking €50,000 in order to become established properly as a legal entity. To date, the foundation has operated with its legal assets being held by the German non-profit association Deutschland e.V.

Beating the snags in open data Feb 17, 2011 - The drive for public sector data transparency has accelerated with the publication of spending data and the Open Government Licence (OGL) framework, licensing the re-use of public data. Central government has set up as a searchable home for data and the number of organisations using the OGL is increasing: of the 293 councils that had published spending data by the end of January 2011 deadline, 141 had released their data under the OGL.

Helen Wadham - Wikileaks shows the power of public data Feb 15, 2011

Public data could provide charites with very useful information, says the senior lecturer at Staffordshire University.

In a report by the Advanced Performance Institute, a research organisation for performance management, half the public sector organisations surveyed said they collected more data now than two years ago, but only about 10 per cent of it helped them to perform better.

The big society initiative will give the third sector access to much of this data, which is key to service delivery and policy decisions

LibreOffice Debuts, Beating by a Whisker Feb 15, 2011

eWEEK - In the open-source movement, the forking of a project is often a contentious matter, and can lead to the demise or mothballing of the applications that spawn from the original software. In many ways, it’s a “nuclear option” as developers choose their allegiances and take their skills with them. Often, the result is the loss of momentum as well as mindshare for all the spawned projects. But it’s not an inevitable one: the January release of LibreOffice 3.3 shows that sometimes forking can lead to a positive outcome.

Why You Need Document Freedom Feb 15, 2011

ComputerWorldUK - It seems everything has a special day. While today's celebration is easy enough to understand, you may not have run into Document Freedom Day, which this year is being celebrated on March 30th. Don’t for a second underestimate the importance of document freedom. It sounds dull - not just mundane, but the forgotten esoterica of the mundane - but it’s a crucial driver in the dominance of major software vendors. If the other elements of our Digital liberty are to be allowed to unfurl in their natural order, we need document freedom.

'Hack day' for open source applications that use Eurostat data Feb 07, 2011

Software developers in Athens, Berlin, Edinburgh and London on Thursday will brainstorm on new uses of the data made avaible by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Communities. It is expected that most software applications resulting from the 'Eurostat Hackday' will be available under an open source license.          

Open Data, Open Society Jan 13, 2011
A research project about openness of public data in EU local administration

The report discusses the current and potential role, in a truly open society, of raw Public Sector Information (PSI) that is really open, that is  fully accessible and reusable by everybody. The general characteristics of PSI and the conclusions are based on previous studies and on the analysis of current examples both from the European Union and the rest of the world.

GDS chief Mike Bracken becomes Gov’s chief data officer Mar 26, 2015

ITPRO - The government has appointed its very first chief data officer, revealing Government Digital Service (GDS) chief Mike Bracken will fill the role.

Bracken, who has pioneered digital transformation in Whitehall at the reins of the GDS, will take on the CDO job in addition to his current duties.

He will be tasked with developing a new Government Data Standard, championing the use of open data and promoting data as a key factor in making decisions.


Open Data


Public Administration data about or for the public should be freely accessible via an open standard, without restrictions from copyright or patents.


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