Community calls for free open data in consultation 2012-08-20


[The following blog post was provided by the Open Rights Group (ORG) whose mission is to be the leading voice defending freedom of expression, privacy, innovation, creativity and consumer rights on the net. We campaign to change public policy whenever your rights are threatened, by talking to policy-makers, informing the public through the media, and mobilising our supporters.] “The government published today their response to the consultation on a Public Data Group that will consolidate Ordnance Survey, Land Registry, Met Office and Companies House into a single data provider... The responses to the proposals on charging models, showed that there is overwhelming support for freeing public data, particularly ‘raw data’ that does not involved value added services. There were several hundred people who engaged with this question. This level of response shows the strength and consistency of the reaction across a wide community... Such a uniform reaction -- particularly coming from the innovators and civil society -- shows that the existing models are increasingly failing to deliver, and that further moves will need to be made if the stated aims of increasing civil involvement and fostering innovation are to be achieved. The government will now have to continue thinking about it and report back at the end of 2012. This is actually a victory, and it means that the open data community has more time to ensure that we get a political response to a political issue from elected politicians... The other proposed changes to actual data policy that we were consulted on: licensing, etc. work as predicted. There will be some improvements to bring more consistency with the Open Government License, and more stable terms and conditions...  a new Data Strategy Board will act as a public customer and promoter of open data. The DSB will be responsible for negotiating data supply for internal government use, and will advise each department on making the best deals. It will incorporate existing user groups for geodata and weather data, already dealing with similar issues, so it should start on its feet ready to run... The Data Strategy Board will be given £7 Million (from savings made by bringing together the trading funds) to buy back data to be opened. This appeared to many people we involved in the previous consultation a circular waste of time and resources, while in other countries such as Spain and Norway government just makes a decision to open data and gets on with it. After all, the estimated £50 Million yearly cost of opening all this data is around a third of the price tag of a modern fighter jet... the DSB will not actually decide how to spend that money, instead advising Ministers on commissioning free data without any apparent executive capacity. It will require a huge effort for this arrangement not to be derailed by short term considerations. We also need more clarity on how this will be carried forward in a sustainable process that incorporates future releases that maintain the quality of the data, let alone improvements... Even if as we hope the DSB manages to raise its head in dignity instead of being reduced to squabbling over how to spend government’s spare change, it is difficult to see where is the Open Data Strategy at work in DSB. The DSB will be in charge of evaluating the success of open data policies, such as OS Opendata, and writing business cases for more open data, but this risks becoming a never ending story. Only last week we were in Rotterdam in a EU sponsored event, where it was repeated a zillion times that the case for open data in terms of value to society is done and dusted, and that the EPSI Platform and other websites have all the studies and business cases... ORG’s view is that the PDG and DSG should be seen as transitional arrangements to allow public bodies time to change, and a first step in a real Strategy of moving towards a free national public data infrastructure... In the meantime, it will be important to see who will chair the DSB. The board will be run under BIS, specifically reporting to David Willets - Minister for Universities, but the Cabinet Office will appoint the chair. There will be a 30% quota for representatives of interests outside government, and it may make a difference who sits there representing open data reusers: start-ups or big businesses happy to pay for data if conditions are consistent.  A newly created Open Data User Group will channel the demand for free data into the DSB and will have a seat in the DSB. This will involve public and external users, but last time we checked nobody knew who will be there, nor the balance between commercial, public sector and civic users.”



08/16/2012, 06:08

From feeds:

Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) »

Tags: oa.licensing oa.comment oa.consultations oa.funding oa.libre



Date tagged:

08/20/2012, 18:51

Date published:

03/20/2012, 16:22