Government Announces Consultation On Open Data

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Further consultations will be held on expanding the government’s open data scheme within weeks

The government will be consulting further on the data it makes freely available via its open data scheme in the coming weeks.

Tim Kelsey, the government’s advisor on open data and transparency, announced the consultation at thinktank Demos’ Where next for open data? conference.

“The consultation that government will commence in a couple of weeks will ask everyone what we want to see in the future,” he said, according to the Guardian. “What I hope we want is openness as the point of principle, with any exemptions to follow.”

The consultation will be across the ‘six domains of open data’: accountability, choice, public service productivity, outcomes in quality, social growth and economic growth.

It will be at green paper level, in order to promote discussion rather than create sets of proposals.

Growing access to data

There are currently more than 5,400 datasets from every central government department and a number of local authorities and public sector bodies available on data.gov.uk.

But Kelsey said the scheme could extend to any organisation that receives public money in return for services, for example National Rail.

The Public Data Corporation, which is due to begin bringing data together from the government bodies by the end of the year, will also be covered by the proposed consultation.

So far, data has been made available for free. But Kelsey said the case for charging versus free needs to be judged in terms of contribution to the economy, to ensure the scheme is balanced.

The open data initiative began under the Labour government and makes data available in order to allow individuals or commercial enterprises to analyse trends and the effects of government policy or to assist in building new services.

The current government has continued to drive the issue with open data being at the heart of the Conservative party’s technology manifesto pledges before the last general election.

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