New government plans for open data have been outlined in a white paper published today that promises to publicly share, within the next year, data on topics as varied as public money received for civil programmes, employment outcomes as a result of the government's Work Programme and statistics on pupils' progression through the school system.
The white paper outlines how the government intends to begin freely sharing data with research bodies, as well as providing individuals with access to personal data held on them through easily accessible web portals.
The paper insists, however, that "this does not involve creating new databases or compromising privacy and confidentiality; it is about using new technologies and techniques to analyse data safely and securely."
In his introduction to the white paper, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, Francis Maude (pictured), stated that "transparency is at the heart of our agenda for government," and that making data more freely available could "empower citizens, foster innovation and reform public services".
"We're creating an information marketplace for entrepreneurs and businesses," Maude continued.
Deloitte Analytics public sector leader, Costi Perricos, said, "The government's commitment to open data is good for the UK economy. The white paper will be one of the catalysts that helps raise public awareness about the benefits and use of open data, both for individuals and businesses."
Perricos believes such a government commitment could "lead to the emergence of an entirely new breed of business, where strategies are based solely on the use and publication of data".
However, he also warned that "aspects surrounding how to keep data anonymous will need to be addressed, and the reasons why and how the data is being used should always be clear".
"Safeguards to protect privacy should be at the heart of any open data strategy," Perricos said.
The announcement comes as data governance and security was discussed at Computing's first Big Data Summit in London today. A detailed analysis of the day's events will appear on this website soon, and video interviews from the day will be available next week.
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A discussion of the "risk perception gap", its implications and how it can be closed