Free Our Data: the blog

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

OS data: ‘you will like it’

Yesterday Gordon Brown fired a sort-of starting gun for the election, at least in part, by trying to get the geek vote: loads more non-personal government data to be made available for free commercial reuse, bus franchises to be obliged in future to make timetables available to others, tons of broadband. (Read the speech.)

The interesting clause, of course, being this one:

And following the strong support in our recent consultation, I can confirm that from 1st April, we will be making a substantial package of information held by ordnance survey freely available to the public, without restrictions on re-use. Further details on the package and government’s response to the consultation will be published by the end of March.

(While I was typing this, I had a call from a PR representing a group of users of OS data who are upset that within days of the consultation ending Brown seems to be heading off down one of the routes that is not the “leave it as it was” one. More to come…)

Afterwards I asked Nigel Shadbolt and Michael Wills – the latter being the minister at the Ministry of Justice who was, we think, the first inside government to give serious consideration to the ideas of the Free Our Data (read the interview with him from July 2007).

So, I asked, what’s going to be in the free OS package? Raster data? Or vector data too? To what scale? From Explorer (1:25,000) upwards, or what?

Furrowed brows. But plenty of assurances that “you will like it”. Await more in the coming days…

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