When we set out on a journey towards greater transparency, our focus was squarely on getting data out of government and into the hands of citizens. We worked with central government departments to support commitments set out in their Open Data Strategies.
And we have made great progress - data.gov.uk now has almost 20,000 open datasets on everything from live traffic information to childhood obesity rates.
Recently we’ve seen major releases from the Environment Agency - now transitioning to become a fully open data organisation - the Met Office and Companies House. And Ordnance Survey is today launching four new open data products: OS Open Map - Local; OS Open Names; OS Open Rivers; and OS Open Roads.
This suite of new products includes a detailed open map zoomable to street level. It recognises the demand for local information, and provides a customisable backdrop for users to map, visualise and fully understand their data. Its a powerful tool for developers to use to provide new tools for those hungry to understand localities - if you plan to set up a business, you may want to visualise the proximity of suppliers and competitors; if you are buying a house, you might be interested in the performance of schools and GP surgeries, or local crime rates. You can find more information about all of the new OS open data products here.
This tells us something important about open data: it often becomes most useful when it is local. Geospatial data brings other datasets to life, enhancing products by making them relevant to the individual.
We have seen this in our own work too - some of the most innovative work is taking place at the local level (see further examples here ) Local authorities are using open data to connect with communities, collaborate on solutions to local challenges and improve local service delivery. They are developing innovations that put open data to work and are gaining deeper insights into their localities. And it is working - the London Data Store has led to the creation of more than 200 apps and the site attracts 30,000 unique visitors each month.
That is why Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, has today invited 16 local and regional authorities to Whitehall who are setting the standard in open data and transparency. He will recognise the important work that these exemplar authorities are doing to put data back into the hands of citizens and create opportunities for innovation, economic and social growth and better public services.
Paul Maltby, my team and I in the Cabinet Office have had the opportunity to visit many of these authorities and seen first-hand the innovation that is taking place. From Glasgow’s Open Data Hub containing 400 datasets from more than 60 organisations giving city residents, entrepreneurs and academics free access to information about how the city operates, to Trafford’s Innovation and Intelligence Lab (which is driving evidenced-based decision making on issues such as defibrillator locations), local authorities are leading the way.
Opening up council data has helped some authorities cut out waste, including the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, which saw a 16 per cent reduction in energy consumption when it gave residents real-time information on how much power is being used in public buildings. Other councils, such as Manchester and Sunderland, are taking the friction out of service delivery by enabling the free flow of data between public sector organisations.
Recognising the important role that open data can play in public service transformation, these exemplar authorities are unlocking new benefits for their communities and strengthening town hall transparency. At today’s roundtable, Leaders and Chief Executives will go even further in exploring the role of open data in the ‘local authority of the future.’
Last month Hampshire County Council hosted the first ever Open Data Camp, which brought together over 100 data-hungry developers, innovators and entrepreneurs to create fresh insights and innovative products and services. It was a great illustration of the extraordinary energy and creativity of the people that are propelling this exciting agenda forward, right across the United Kingdom. It’s a privilege to be working on such a transformative agenda, and delight to be recognising and learning from this trailblazing work at today’s roundtable.
Notes: The Local Open Data Champions are - Barnet, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Devon, Glasgow, Hampshire, Lambeth, Leeds, London, Manchester, Windsor & Maidenhead, Redbridge, Sunderland, Surrey and Trafford.