UK Government

Cabinet Office: Embargoed until 00:01 Thursday 21 January 2010 - Government launches one-stop shop for data

Press Release   •   Jan 21, 2010 11:02 GMT

A major new website has been launched to the public which gives anyone who wants to use it unprecedented and free access to government data in one place.

The site called data.gov.uk contains more than 2500 sets of data from across government.  All of the data is non-personal and in a format that can be reused by any individual or business to create innovative new software tools, such as applications about house prices, local amenities and services, or access to local hospitals.

Stephen Timms, Minister for Digital Britain, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web and Professor Nigel Shadbolt from the University of Southampton, worked together to launch the website.

In the run-up to today’s public launch, 2400 registered developers were given access to a preview version of the site, so they could offer feedback and start experimenting with the data.

Some of the applications developed in this preview stage include:

* a video which shows traffic flows and congestion on the motorway network over the past decade
* the ‘School Finder’ website which enables parents to search for schools by location and Ofsted report
* a "postcode newspaper" which details the different public services in a postcode area

So that people can continue to create new products in the future, data.gov.uk will be using a new, open licence, which allows government-owned data to be freely reused by anybody.

Today’s launch delivers on a major commitment in Putting the Frontline First: Smarter Government which the Prime Minister announced in December.

Stephen Timms, Minister for Digital Britain, said:

“Freeing up public data will create major new opportunities for businesses.  By allowing industry to use data creatively they can develop new services and generate economic value from it.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for UK firms to secure better value for money in service delivery and to develop innovative services which will help to grow the economy.”

Sir Tim Berners-Lee said:

“Making public data available for re-use is about increasing accountability and transparency and letting people create new, innovative ways of using it. Government data should be a public resource.  By releasing it, we can unlock new ideas for delivering public services, help communities and society work better, and let talented entrepreneurs and engineers create new businesses and services. ”

Professor Nigel Shadbolt, said:

“Today marks an important step forward in the work the Prime Minister asked us to lead.  It gives data to the public and sets the groundwork for further progress. Over the next few weeks and months we will build on this by adding more functions. We are already working with departments, agencies and local authorities to release even more data all the time, and we want the release of public data to be ‘business as usual’ across public bodies as outlined in Putting the Frontline First: Smarter Government.

“We are also going to increase the use of ‘Linked Data’ standards, which allows people to provide data in a way that is as flexible and easy-to-use as possible.”

CAB 005-10

Notes for Editors

1. Sir Tim Berners-Lee OM and Professor Nigel Shadbolt were appointed by the Prime Minister on 10 June 2009 to open up the government’s data.

2. Data.gov.uk launched to developers to enable them to give feedback on 30 September 2009.

3.The Government launched a consultation on how much mapping information to make free on 23 December last year.

4. The Postcode Paper was developed by the Newspaper Club and can be found at http://blog.newspaperclub.co.uk/2009/10/16/data-gov-uk-newspaper/

Traffic Counts has been developed by ITO World and can be found at http://itoworld.blogspot.com/2009/10/visualising-transport-data-for.html

5.   Today’s site is a Beta version.  "Beta" is a common IT industry way of allowing people to use a website and give feedback for further development.  Over 2400 people are already part of the data.gov.uk developer community and over the next few months we will continue helping them develop new, innovative uses of public data as well as adding more functionality working with departments, agencies and local authorities to release more data as promised.
6. Putting the Frontline First: Smarter Government set out the Government's overall principles for public data and a programme for the release of more data to the website over the coming months.  Today's package also delivers on the commitment to integrate data from the Publications Hub for National Statistics and to release more health data. 
7. On Tuesday John Denham, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government addressed a panel chaired by Professor Nigel Shadbolt which is looking at how to publish similar information at local government level. Some of the data released on data.gov.uk has already been incorporated into Lichfield City Council's website.
8. The website is available at http://data.gov.uk

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