Free Our Data: the blog

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

Trading Funds report: final totals: economy +£179m, gov’t -15.4m

So here are the tallies, according to the Trading Funds report, of how making bulk data free would benefit the economy, and how much it would cost the government. (You can find the figures in Chapter 7 of the report.)

Name Product Gross benefit (£m) Net cost to government (£m) Net gain (£m) Ratio of return on investment (net gain/net cost)
Ordnance Survey Large Scale Topo 168 12 156 13
DVLA Anonymised Bulk & Mileage data 4.3 0.582 3.7 6.36
Companies House Bulk Data and Image 2.6 0.681 1.9 2.79
Land Registry Property Price, Polygon GIS 2.3 1.1 1.2 1.09
Met Office wholesale data 1.2 0.260 1.03 3.96
UK Hydrographic Office Digital UK Charts & Publications 1.08 0.744 0.338 0.45
Total 179.48m 15.37m 164.2m 10.68
source: models of PSI provision by Trading Funds report, DBERR

The figure for Ordnance Survey is dramatic, but understandable: as it says itself, it underpins huge amounts of economic activity. The point that this study makes is that making its raw data free would allow even more economic activity – creative, useful, beneficial, taxable – to occur.

(The UKHO is unlike the other trading funds, as the report points out, because it takes in raw data from outside organisations, which it may not be allowed to make available royalty- or payment-free. Which goes some way to explaining the answer to the question I was asked earlier.)

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