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Open local data

Welcome to the wiki on winning the argument for localgov data.


This was created after the local data panel met in the West Midlands in Spring 2010 (and subsequently set up the Local Data blog). It has been created by Michael Grimes (Citizenship Foundation), Stuart Harrison (Lichfield Council) and Dan Slee (Walsall Council).


As well as the background information below, we are collecting counter-arguments for use in winning the case for open local data.




Why a wiki?

A wiki allows authors to edit, create and collaborate on arguments for releasing data.


Why a wiki on local data?

The inspiration comes from the debate on social media.


In many places the adoption of social media has far to go. In the places where it has been a success those who argued for it within local government drew from online resources which set out argument and counter argument. This is the purpose of this wiki.


Who is it aimed at?

The novice as well as the geek. You shouldn't have to be able to code to grasp the argument. This is about making the argument easy to understand to the layman.


What is data?

Data is information gathered by local and central government. A collection of data is known as a dataset. This can cover a myriad of subjects. For example, it can cover the names of ward councillors. It can be the co-ordinates of leisure centres. It can be the location of road traffic collisions across a given area. (More on data)


Why is releasing data important to local and national government?

It helps transparency. It helps accountability. It helps decision makers make good decisions and to explain them. It helps democracy.


Why is data important to entrepreneurs?

Bright people at Cambridge University calculate that freeing up data can lead to a £6 billion industry in the UK alone. That's through building applications and maps to help interpret the information more clearly.


Is releasing data political?

The release of data is an issue that crosses party and national boundaries.  

  • In the US Barack Obama has argued for data to be made free to help transparency.
  • In the UK Home Office Minister Tom Watson MP in Gordon Brown's administration powerfully argued for open data. The central government data repository data.gov.uk was created.
  • Home Office Minister Francis Maude MP has continued to argue for open data, and the current government are continuing to push for the opening of government data .


In so far as the release of good quality raw data can support democratic debate, data itself has a political dimension, but the movement to open up access to government data is backed by leaders from across the political spectrum. 


Having trouble making the case for open data? Check out our rebuffs to common arguments. 




Explaining data



Current position with UK data



What is data? 




Case studies and examples 



Data repositories


Comments (2)

Tim Davies said

at 5:42 pm on Jun 6, 2010

Hey Dan, Stuart, Michael

Thanks for creating such a fantastic resource. I've gone through and made some additions where I thought they might be useful, but realise (a) sometimes I may have added caveats that, whilst I'd argue they are important, may be a second-tier of arguments and ones that you would prefer were put off into a separate wiki page; (b) some additions may be a little verbose, so - also happy to put them off in a side-page somewhere...

Happy to keep adding content here if that's useful... let me know.

Tim (@timdavies / http://www.practicalparticipation.co.uk/odi/)

daniel.slee1972@... said

at 11:55 pm on Jun 6, 2010

As far as I'm concerned, Tim add away! Thanks for the contributions. There are loads of good examples and blogs on the subject. This is a chance to put some of them in the one place.

As a rough rule of thumb, maybe the old journalists maxim of 'KISS and tell - Keep It Short and Simple' maybe a good adage to adopt for this wiki for anyone looking to contribute. Feel free to add more. That goes for anyone else too...

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