ODI welcomes recommendations to open public data

The Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) released a report today which recommends a "presumption of openness" in relation to public data held by Government.

The report, Statistics and Open Data: Harvesting unused knowledge, empowering citizens and improving public services, highlights the economic and societal benefits of public data. It suggests that UK Government needs to act quickly to release data to enable these benefits to be felt and to keep the UK at the forefront of open data.

Houses of Parliament

Jeni Tennison, Technical Director at the ODI, which supplied evidence to the PASC consultation, said: "There is a huge amount of potential locked away in public data which, if opened and presented in the right way, can enable significant benefits to accountability, the efficiency of public services and the UK economy. We welcome this report which gives a good summary of the current state of open data support within government."

The publication of the PASC report comes as news emerged of the sale of public postcode data as part of the Royal Mail privatisation, which it describes as a "mistake".

Jeni Tennison said:

The sale of postcode data as part of the privatisation of Royal Mail demonstrates short-sightedness and a real failure and lack of understanding of the wider benefits of public data. Royal Mail shows no signs of opening up that postcode data, only of tweaking their existing licence agreements. The Government needs to take steps to rectify their mistake, by building an open address database. It also needs to take steps to ensure that the transfer of public data to the private sector never happens again, particularly in the context of proposals to change Land Registry to become a government-owned company. We look forward to reading the Government’s response to the PASC report.

Image Flickr: ** Maurice **