open data

Tim Berners-Lee (c) Getty

New research from Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web Foundation and the Open Data Institute places the UK at the top of the league table for open data, ahead of the United States.

The report comes ahead of an open government summit in London where David Cameron is to announce a proposal for a public register of company ownership which will show who ultimately owns and controls businesses.

The survey of the state of open data in 77 counties, notes that 55 per cent of the countries surveyed now have open data initiatives, but reiterates familiar problems for all users of open data:

  • Valuable but potentially controversial datasets – such as company registers and land registers – are among the least likely to be openly released
  • When they are released, government datasets are often issued in inaccessible formats
  • Less than 7 per cent of the datasets surveyed are published in both machine readable forms and under open licences
  • Data is often released only in highly aggregated forms
  • Whilst countries might boast about releasing hundreds of datasets, if they aren’t the numbers demanded by citizens or those than can enable transparency or innovation there is little potential to deliver impact

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Kate Allen

By Kate Allen and Jonathan Moules

A new institution which aims to maximise the UK’s world-leading position in the emerging field of data use for the creation of new businesses and services is set to launch today.

The Open Data Institute, which was announced by George Osborne in last year’s Autumn Statement, will be the first such organisation of its kind in the world. It will receive £10m government funding over the next five years and aims to raise an equal amount from private donors. It has already attracted $750,000 from eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar. Read more