Free Our Data: the blog

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


Wikileaks produces OS confidential briefing to ministers

Well, well. Wikileaks, the organisation that has leaked details about Daniel Arap Moi’s finances and UBS’s dealings, has provided something altogether more interesting than the identity of the international man or woman of mystery.

It’s a confidential briefing document by Sir Rob Margetts, chair of Ordnance Survey, Vanessa Lawrence, chief exec of OS, and Charlie Villar (who Google tells us is a member of the Shareholder Executive) to “the minister” – hard to know who but since it talks about various options such as the OpenSpace concept, which was unveiled earlier this year, we assume the minister in question was Iain Wright – else this would hardly be confidential information, would it?

The document – a 22-page PDF – is available from
https://secure.wikileaks.org/wiki/New_Digital_Master_Map_for_Great_Britian:_Confidential_Advice_to_Ministers%2C_2009.

One very interesting page is p9, which seems to offer a comparison of the “current” trading fund model, the “utility” – is that “free data”? – model, and the “hybrid” model, though not much is made clear about what the hybrid model actually involves. Except that moving to it doesn’t involve any restructuring costs, which seems incredible.

Your opinions welcome: what does it mean? Can this report somehow be the source of Sir Rob’s mysterious “cost the government £500m to £1bn to shift to a free data model” claim? And does that claim – and this briefing – actually stand up to public scrutiny, rather than the minister’s private office?

You’re the public. What do you think?

    The following posts may be related...(the database guesses):