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Open Data User Group Update - April 2014

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Open Data User Group (ODUG) Update

Open Addressing – Response to PASC Report on Statistics and Open Data and our next steps on the National Information Infrastructure (NII)

Recent activities:

Two reports have been published recently, both of which challenge the Government to take some critical steps forward for the Open Data agenda.

Firstly, in response to the case for a free Open National Address Dataset which ODUG presented to the Data Strategy Board on November 2012, The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), in January, published its report on options for An Open Address Gazetteer.

Responses received on this report from Katalysis, including ODUG’s, were published earlier this month. In summary there is strong support from the users of address data for a national open address gazetteer, and a predictable response from the Royal Mail, supported to an extent by the Postcode Address File Advisory Board (PAB), which focuses on the use of the Postcode Address File (PAF) for its own delivery business. This is unsurprising given the Royal Mail’s lack of interest on the wider uses of PAF data, or its potential wider benefits to society, even whilst they were still publicly owned.

The Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) Report on Statistics and Open Data was also published recently. This provides a very strong steer to the Government concluding that the sale of the PAF with Royal Mail was a “mistake” and highlighting that “Public access to public sector data must never be sold or given away again”.

ODUG has drafted a short response to the PASC report which is available below.

Next steps:

ODUG decided at our most recent meeting that we should now focus on an analysis of the National Information Infrastructure (NII). It is clear that there is work necessary to identify what the Shakespeare Review recommended for a twin-track approach to identify the high quality core which should be enshrined as National Core Reference Data. The report also talks about the ‘connective tissue of place and location, the administrative building blocks of registered legal entities and details of land and property ownership’ – this is where we think there needs to be some concerted focus.

The very smart group I am lucky to have around the table at ODUG has recognised the need for someone, somewhere, to identify the necessary hierarchy within the National Information Infrastructure – in particular setting out what the ‘connective tissue’ layer might look like. This is highly pertinent to the options set out in the BIS Open Address Gazetteer Report, the recommendations of the PASC report, the recent BIS consultation on options for restructuring Her Majesty’s Land Registry (HMLR) as a service delivery company and the issues ODUG continues to raise around Ordnance Survey (OS) derived data licensing restrictions and the open availability of publicly owned geospatial data across the economy.

ODUG plans to deliver a proposal for discussion on how the National Information Infrastructure should be revised to identify the underlying ‘Core Reference’ data necessary to release value from the wider set of public datasets available under the Open Government License (OGL). We will deliver this as soon as we can – for comment and feedback from all parties.

Finally, I must thank the members of ODUG for their continued work and tireless enthusiasm in this area and remind you that they all work here on a voluntary basis – on top of highly demanding ‘day-jobs’. Please support us as far as you are able to, give your feedback and hold us to account for properly representing the views of both the data products and services community and public sector organisations using and reusing data to improve the way services are delivered.


Heather Savory

Chair Open Data User Group

April 2014

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