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Opening up our data

March 10th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

I think this is big news although it has received little press attention. According to Information World Review, Click Use, the license that the UK government has used to allow reuse of government data is to be replaced by a Creative Commons type license. Information World Review quotes Jo Ellis of OPSI as saying: “We have drafted a simple and enabling set of terms and conditions for the site which means that data available through data.gov.uk will be re-usable both commercially and non-commercially.”

“These terms and conditions have been aligned to be interoperable with any Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Licence.”

This move follows a slow opening up of government data with the increasing provision of tools to allow users to easily create mash ups. Particularly interesting is  Directgov  Innovate site which says:

We developed our platform to enable conversation with the developer community around innovative use of digital technologies. In addition to our blog we ask people to submit examples of innovative citizen focused apps or ideas for apps that could be developed using government data or that demonstrate innovative use of technologies.

The site gives access to tools to easily create widgets to query local government data, for instance providing access to job vacancies or school term dates.

Similarly, the UK data gov site says:

Advised by Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt and others, government is opening up data for reuse. This site seeks to give a way into the wealth of government data and is under constant development. We want to work with you to make it better.

We’re very aware that there are more people like you outside of government who have the skills and abilities to make wonderful things out of public data. These are our first steps in building a collaborative relationship with you.

Like Directgov, the site allows users to contribute both ideas and apps to the site.

All this augers well. I have been working on developing mash up applications for careers guidance and counselling and in particular for using Labour Market Information. All to often, the major barrier is the lack of available data, license restrictions and the lack of APis to query data. At last attitudes seem to be changing.

One Response to “Opening up our data”

  1. Mandy Smith says:

    Great post. Just found an excellent site with UK government documents on it – http://www.officialdocumentwatch.com is a really well built site and them seem to be very up to date – always posting the latest UK government documents released to the public. Worth a look.

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