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New Board To Advise Government On Public Data Releases

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined
as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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New board will assess economic benefits of making public data freely available

The government has said a new independent data strategy board will advise it on what public data should be released and how it is published.

At least a third of the board will be composed of members outside of government and will look to release data that would have economic and social benefits for the UK, according to The Daily Telegraph.

Free the data

The board will work with organisations such as the Met Office and Ordnance Survey, all of which possess valuable data. Some countries make public data available for free as they believe the resulting economic boost will bring in more tax revenue, outweighing the benefits of charging for access to information.

A budget of £7 million will be allocated to the board to purchase existing rights for data use and it will have to provide evidence of what benefits would result from its release, even if it is done so for free. The move should be welcomed by private sector organisations and those in data intensive industries who have been calling on the government to free more of its information.

The government had been flirting with the idea of a freemium model for its open data scheme, even though it had initially warned not all information would be free. However, Ordnance Survey data is already freely available to the public. Previously it had only been free for small-scale developers.

It was reported last week that Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is to become a so-called ‘transparency tsar‘ for the British government and will help with “open government” initiatives.

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