18 December 2006

Open Public Data: Halfway There

Well, now, here's some progress:

The OFT's market study into the commercial use of public information has found that more competition in public sector information could benefit the UK economy by around £1billion a year.

Download Commercial use of public information (pdf 707 kb).

Examples of public sector information include weather observations collected by the Met Office, records held by The National Archives used by the public to trace their family history, and mapping data collated by Ordnance Survey. The underlying raw information is vital for businesses wanting to make value-added products and services such as in-car satellite navigation systems.

Public sector information holders (PSIHs) are usually the only source for much of this raw data, and although some make this available to businesses for free, others charge. A number of PSIHs also compete with businesses in turning the raw information into value-added products and services. This means PSIHs may have reason to restrict access to information provided solely by themselves.

The study found that raw information is not as easily available as it should be, licensing arrangements are restrictive, prices are not always linked to costs and PSIHs may be charging higher prices to competing businesses and giving them less attractive terms than their own value-added operations.

It's good news that the Office of Fair Trading has grasped that the public sector trough-scoffers cost taxpayers serious money through their greed; however, realising that making the information freely available - not just for commercial use - would generate far more dosh still will take a while, I fear. (Via Open Knowledge Foundation.)


james burke said...

it's time they created some APIs so we can access and reuuse our own data as citizens. I'm pushing for this in the Netherlands, although just starting. It will also help government gain greater insight into what is happening but also show new opinions/viewpoints by the crossing over of datasets. As for the government making money out of this..hmmmm intersting point and what would be acceptable?

Glyn Moody said...

Well, I think it's well-established that the overall boost to the economy obtained by freeing such data is considerable; so there's no need to charge - the financial benefit is indirect.

Good luck in the Netherlands.