Please help map usage of Companies House, Land Registry, Met Office and Ordnance Survey data - and help inform improvements to make it more accessible and useful.
As I’m sure many of you are aware, within the vast array of data held by the public sector, some of the most important data in the public sector is held by the four members of the Public Data Group – Companies House, Land Registry, Met Office and Ordnance Survey.
Also, as I’m sure many of you are equally aware, although they release very large amounts of data - from companies accounts to residential property sale prices - not all of this data is open and freely…
I’m part of the secretariat of PDG and we’re currently running on a survey on how businesses are using PDG data and what could be done to improve the licencing, formatting and communicating of PDG’s data. It would be really helpful if you use PDG data in any way, if you could take 5 minutes to complete the survey. You can find it here: bit.ly/PDGsurvey or here: https://bisgovuk.citizenspace.com/shex/public-data-group
I’ll be direct: this survey does cover open and non-open data. There are many reasons why all of PDG data isn’t open and the arguments why have been covered in various places. But essentially the reasons are that for some of the data there are issues with personal or sensitive information. For others there are issues stemming from the fact there are numerous steps in the refining of final output and it’s not clear that there are benefits to the data from all of those steps being released. Related to this is the issue that some of the data is so vast and volatile that there are major logistical challenges to making it accessible and unclear benefits to doing so. For example, the Met Office data on this data.gov.uk site already requires government to fund a separate contract to support it. And finally, there is an issue of cost.
There are of course costs to the collection, analysis and provision of data. As Trading Funds, PDG bodies do not receive direct funding and income from any statutory activities they deliver can’t be used to cover the costs of releasing data. They therefore raise their funds for this work from delivering services to Government, commercial activity or, where feasible, developing new processes and IT architecture to ensure that data be made available at minimum cost.
But we are very keen to ensure that the fact that some data is not free does not hinder innovation. And we’re also very keen to make sure that there is wide awareness of the open data that is made available and that it is easy to use. Which is why we’re running this survey now with a view to announcing some changes in the next few months.
The survey has 4 main aims:
- Understanding who is using PDG data and how. Where possible this is being shared with the ODI to support their Open Data Business research.
- Understanding what level of awareness of the data there is – and the ease of understanding the distinction between free and paid for data.
- Understanding where efforts to increase the accessibility of the data should be focused – whether through different formats, points of contact, increased use of APIs etc.
- Understanding awareness of the licences that allow people to use paid for data for free - and how they can be improved.
We’re also mapping the responses as they come in with information about the businesses as they respond (see below for a screenshot).
So if you’re using PDG data it’d be great if you could complete the survey!
If you have any comments on the survey I’d be happy to discuss at PDG@bis.gov.uk or @Iain_Rolfe