ODI urges government to be 'bold' on open data for business

The Open Data Institute (ODI) has welcomed the findings of Stephan Shakespeare in his Independent Review of Public Sector Information, and has called on the government to drive them forward, by "turning recommendations into real progress".

Gavin Starks, CEO of the ODI says: “This is the time to be bold and ambitious. What happens now on the back of this report is crucial in unlocking the value of open data. If the government is serious about making data open, it has to be made available and fast.”

Last week, the White House issued an executive order requiring all US federal government data to be open and machine-readable. Whilst the ODI supports the recommendations put forward in today’s report, Starks says he does not want the UK falling behind the US.

In relation to the Shakespeare report the ODI would have liked to have seen "bolder statements of intent" around the two areas of aiding innovation and ensuring data sets are published.

Starks said, “Whilst the report provides a solid set of recommendations, the ODI would like to have seen a greater emphasis placed on the role that public sector information can play in innovation. When it comes to open data, the UK has the leadership position, so why aren’t we being more ambitious?”

The Shakespeare report says that the ODI is "well-placed" to demonstrate the "value latent in public sector information (PSI)", for example through building the demand side for PSI - including public sector use of its own data and incubating start-ups - and "training business to best exploit and innovate with the data released by government".

Forming part of the recommendations by Shakespeare is the establishment of and access to National Core Reference Data - the most important data held by each government department and other publicly funded bodies.

Nigel Shadbolt, ODI chairman, said: “As with the recent executive order in the US, the ODI would like to see a legal duty placed on public bodies to create and maintain the core reference data."

To strengthen trust in the on-going availability and consistency of this data, Shadbolt said: "This legal duty should be supplemented by a power in legislation for a secretary of state to designate uniform resource identifiers (URIs) for this core reference data. This way we can provide universal and linked access to the core data on which future business and government will depend.”

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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