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International Open Data Day 2015

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Today is International Open Data Day and all around the world citizens are gathering to liberate data and put it to use. More than 100 events are scheduled, from Belgium to Bangladesh and Paraguay to Portugal.

In the UK alone, events are taking place in Bath, Hampshire, London and Manchester. The events are run by volunteers, determined that transparency is an idea whose time has come. They want to show the enormous value of open data and push governments to adopt open data policies and release more data.

These demands are being heard in the UK. Ordnance Survey (OS) has today announced a new suite of open data products and key support for open data publishers, developers and innovators. Topping the bill are a world-leading digital map and geospatial engagement hub, which will help bring the UK’s most valuable data to life.

Open Data Institute Chairman and Co-Founder, Sir Nigel Shadbolt, welcomed the announcement, “This is a further significant commitment to open data and innovation from Ordnance Survey. Geospatial data, in particular, has enormous potential to transform peoples’ lives. From creating a more sustainable built environment, to effectively targeting public services, this kind of open data enables the most creative developers and entrepreneurs to deliver social, economic and environmental value. In December, the ODI published its Open Data Roadmap for the UK, calling on government to maintain the pace towards even greater openness. Today’s announcement is a welcome indication that our call is being answered.”

However, he stressed that there is still progress to be made, “As Tim Berners-Lee and I state in the ODI’s second Annual Report published this week,  ‘it would be wrong to think that the job of the open data community is done’. There is more geospatial data to open up and we also look forward to more organisations both inside and outside the public sector embracing the principles and practice of open data.”

The announcement from OS comes at a crucial moment. The UK is hosting its first ever Open Data Camp in Hampshire today and participants will have the opportunity to trial the new data. Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Roy Perry, described the importance of today’s announcements,

“Hampshire County Council is delighted to be hosting and sponsoring the first Open Data Camp to be held in the UK. Sharing data has a key role to play in supporting our plans to develop a customer-centred digital service, ensuring Hampshire’s public services are both convenient and accessible for the people who use them. We know that demand is growing for public services, and so are the expectations of our customers - but finances continue to be stretched, and by 2017, the County Council alone, will need to have found another £100 million in savings. Transparency and access to current, good quality data will be essential in developing a new, modern, digital infrastructure to help reshape how we work, and create sustainable high-quality services for the future with our partners, whilst also contributing towards our next significant savings target.”

Included in the OS announcement are a range of open data commitments.

1) A significant enhancement to Ordnance Survey’s portfolio of Open Data products:

  • A new, more detailed OS OpenMap (1:10000 scale) optimised for mobile development;
  • A new Open River and Waterways Network that will provide a national view of the UK’s watercourses, supporting environmental planning for e.g. flood management and pollution control;
  • A new and improved Gazetteer with the most up to date place names, road names, road numbers and postcodes for use in location searches.

2) Enhanced support for data publishers, developers and innovators:

  • A new 'presumption to publish' that makes it easier for public sector users of OS data to publish their own open data. This will enable the release of e.g. planning application locations and coordinates on all public sector assets;
  • A new Geospatial Innovation Hub;
  • A new policy enabling the release of Unique Property Reference Numbers (UPRNs) on a royalty free and open basis, which definitively identify every addressable location in the country; and
  • Adoption of the Open Government License v3.0 on all OS open products, to clarify terms of use for software developers.

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, welcomed the new products and initiatives from OS, “As part of this government’s long-term plan for the economy, we are driving an ambitious transparency programme. Open data is a new raw material and today’s Ordnance Survey announcement builds on the progress which has seen us recognised as the world’s most transparent government.”

This core data underpins much of the UK’s open data, and making it publicly available will generate opportunities for enterprise and drive innovation in the digital economy.

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