Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Does Berkshire have #opendata?

According to the Openly Local UK Councils Open Data Scorecard, only 3 of Berkshire's six councils have open data - compared to 85 out of 428 across the rest of the country.

So far Bracknell Forest, Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead and West Berkshire have responded to public demands for greater transparency, while Reading, Slough and Wokingham have not.

As part of the government commitment to create an Open Government License to ensure 'all public sector information is now available under a free, perpetual licence without restrictions beyond attribution' and thereby open up almost all non-personal data for free re-use, local councils are encouraged to put all information collected during official business in the public digital realm online.

The campaign has been supported by The Guardian newspaper, which operates the Free Our Data blog.

The power of information

Campaigners argued that open access to public data encourages greater participation and enables greater scrutiny of government spending, contracts and plans, while providing an insight into who is responsible for what so that higher levels of accountability are provided. Six areas of opportunity have been identified.

For policy geeks interested in discovering ways of using data more creatively to drive service improvements, open data provides the necessary means to 'catalyze innovation' in a modern modular system and improve sustainability - which means connecting different information sources from within large public bureacracies to help prevent problems and delays costing the public purse as much as £18bn-a-year from arising in the first place.

Among other things, all major expenses over £500 should be available to be viewed online by anyone wishing to do so, while real-time transport information could be used to develop mobile applications.

Read more about it in the Cabinet Office's Power of Information Taskforce Report (Feb 2009).

The official data.gov.uk website provides a national hub, while local blogger Countculture has been at the forefront of the open data campaign.

Oranjepan asks:
Why have only 3 out of 6 councils in Berkshire given us open data so far? If equal opportunity is good for half, why isn't it good for all?
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