Berners-Lee launches government web site

By Nicola Brittain
21 Jan 2010 View Comments
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Sir Tim Berners-Lee
Berners-Lee was hired last June

Sir Tim Berners-Lee will officially launch the British government web site data.gov.uk today. The site will offer public sector data to application developers working in the public or private sphere.

Berners-Lee was hired last June by Gordon Brown, to help ensure "that government information is accessible and useful for the widest possible group of people".

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The site will make almost 3,000 data sets available, including 22 military ones. Other data sets include those for traffic accidents, air passenger stats, agriculture and school results.

More than 2,400 developers have registered to test the site so far and 10 applications have been created. They include FillThatHole, which lets people report potholes and other road hazards across the UK using location data from the ONS.

However, some say that the information needs to contain more than just the data itself. Kal Ahmed, director of enterprise search specialists Networked Planet, says that although the launch is welcome, it will only be of limited use unless there is a way in which developers can combine the data available with that from non-governmental web sites.

He argues that it is the identifiers used by government to refer to real-world entities such as schools, hospitals and roads that need to be published by the government to allow data from disparate web sites to link relevant material.

He also says these identifiers need to be both accessible and used consistently across government.

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