Free Our Data: the blog

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


OPSI opens web channel where you can ask for government data

One of the fruits of the Free Our Data campaign’s meeting with Michael Wills, the minister in charge (inter alia) of the Office of Public Sector Information, is that we’ve been consulted on the creation of a web channel where people can ask for datasets from government.

That has now been set up.

As OPSI put it in the official press release (on the National Archives page),

The Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI), part of The National Archives, has launched a new online forum to engage with anyone interested in the re-use of government information for commercial benefit.

The channel will allow re-users of public sector information to request the release of government data that may have economic value.

The initiative is one of the recommendations from the Power Of Information report. We have met OPSI to advise on content, format and layout of the chanel, which can be found at http://www.opsi.gov.uk/forums/forums/index.asp – more specifically, in the Re-use request service forum.

In the welcome, John Sheridan of OPSI notes that the report says that

Recommendation 8 from The Power of Information says “To improve government’s responsiveness to demand for public sector information, by July 2008 OPSI should create a web-based channel to gather and assess requests for publication of public sector information.”

Good to see government beating a deadline.

The government has accepted this recommendation and OPSI would like to engage with the re-user community with setting this new web-channel up. This is why we have set up this discussion forum, to hear your views and discuss our plans.

So – what data would you like to see? Note of course that this doesn’t (necessarily) mean “free” data; there may well be a price on the data. But the question is, what do you think government has that you might want to see, and adapt, and turn into something? Never forget the power of mashing data – it could be that a few quite cheap data sources will reveal something very powerful.

(We also spotted and notified OPSI of a security hole in the way the forums had been set up – now fixed. So that’s two ways we’ve been useful.)

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