Free Our Data: the blog

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

Cabinet Office Taskforce blogs… and you should read it

Richard Allan and Tom Watson – the former a former Lib Dem MP who is now chair of the Power of Information Taskforce, the latter a Cabinet Office minister who set up the taskforce – have set up a blog for news of the progress that the taskforce is making.

It’s fascinating stuff, and we’ve been remiss in not noting more of it here.

For instance, there’s a proof-of-concept for crime mapping, including a presentation where the slides say things like “Is it safe to park my car here?” “Has crime in my area gone up or down?” and “How can I do something about it” – for as it points out, “Call to action [is] almost completely missing in existing mapping propositions”.

(On crime mapping, The Register is echoing the Times reporting today that the Information Commissioner thinks there are “privacy issues”. We feel sure we’ve heard this before – oh, because we actually looked into it, and found there isn’t a real objection. The comments on the Times piece are interesting, because they indicate that people *want* crime mapping, and think the objections of “the property industry” and the ICO are trivial. However one of the comments on the Register piece is interesting:

I’ve seen this … the Met Version. Working. With real data.

It had nothing to do with BoJo the clown. It was already being worked on for ages before, BoJo just made it a plegde and got lucky in the sense that it was already working before the election


The only thing that concerns me is that a visual representation will encourage house prices in certain areas to go into freefall as the red areas (high crime) are highlighted. Funnily enough anywhere near a train station (Underground or National) seems to have higher ratings than other parts of the boroughs but overall the map has average crime levels.

I suppose we will have to wait and see if this makes the police take less action in the red areas to reduce reported crime or tackle stupid things in the whole of London to raise the baseline average……


Which is a long diversion from the POI blog. Where you’ll find plenty of fascinating information, such as the old model for Parliamentary data:

and the new model such as can be used by theyworkforyou:

Get on and add it to your feeds. This is important stuff. And, even more importantly, it’s government being done transparently: when you can see what people are thinking, it helps you to influence it.

(Update: the comments feed isn’t obvious, but you can get it here er, here (thanks, Simon in the comments.)

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