Free state data initiative goes local

08 Dec 2009 View Comments
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Sir Tim Berners-Lee
The open data initiative is going local

The government's plan to put public sector information online continued apace yesterday as communities minister John Denham announced new measures for local authorities.

So far the initiative, spearheaded by Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Nigel Shadbolt, has concentrated on putting central government information online, with more than 1,000 data sets from central departments posted at data.gov.uk, which will be opened to developers next year.

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Now attention has turned to local government.

"We plan to give local people far better access to information held by local public organisations so they can challenge, compare or scrutinise their local services to drive up standards in their area," said Denham.

Berners-Lee and Shadbolt will ensure that all authorities apply the same measures to the value for their services by 2011 so citizens can compare them online.

In the health sector, they will publish hospital trust reference costs for specific treatment categories by early 2010.

In education, they will publish from April 2010 onwards as much data as possible from the National Pupil Database and other sources that will help citizens compare schools data.

In the criminal justice system, during 2010 they will benchmark offender management in prisons and probation and the whole of the prison and probation system by the end of 2011 and publish performance data.

And for police performance, by 2010 they will publish quarterly 12-month average crime data at police authority level and develop value for money data which will enable comparison of forces’ costs and productivity.

Nigel Shadolt will lead a Local Public Data Panel to make sure data is linked effectively across government, councils and local bodies and published in the same form over the next two years.

A further scheme will ensure that all local authorities publish data sets at the same time, so quarterly and annual statistics can be immediately compared.

The government last month committed to putting information from public bodies such as the Ordnance Survey online, seen widely as a key milestone in freeing up state data.

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