Free Our Data: the blog

A Guardian Technology campaign for free public access to data about the UK and its citizens


Why making statistics free can save lives

In today’s Guardian, in Uncovering global inequalities through innovative statistics, we look at Hans Rosling’s call for governments to stop hiding away their potentially useful data “

Despite the encouragement that the internet provides, and the hunger of the public for better ways to analyse that data, governments are reluctant to open their databases to the world and make them searchable. “People put prices on them and stupid passwords,” says Rosling. “And this won’t work.”

Rosling has a very interesting interactive system at gapminder.org where you can plot all sorts of UN data for various countries against each other – such as carbon dioxide emissions vs gross national income, or child mortality against internet connectivity (is there a link? The data should show it).

There’s also his enormously impressive TED talk – watch this, and then you might start to see the point of free data, if you haven’t already.

(Our thanks to David O’Brien of Glasgow for pointing it out to us.)

Update: you can also see the (rather longer, at an hour) video of a Google campus talk by the Gapminder team on the same subject, which covers the same ground as Rosling at TED but in more depth. (You can also download it for Windows, Macs, video iPods and PSPs if you want some offline viewing.)

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