08 June 2007

The Power of (Open) Information

Here's an important study, called The Power of Information, that is actually all about the power of *open* information:

This is an unusual review in that it is a story of opportunities rather than problems. It takes a practical look at the use and development of citizen and state-generated information in the UK. For example, information produced by the government (often referred to as ‘public sector information’) includes maps, heart surgery mortality statistics and timetables, while information from citizens includes advice, product reviews or even recipes.

Public sector information underpins a growing part of the economy and the amount is increasing at a dramatic pace. The driver is the emergence of online tools that allow people to use, re-use and create information in new ways. Public sector information does not, however, cover personal information, such as credit record and medical histories. This is the first review to explore the role of government in helping to maximise the benefits for citizens from this new pattern of information creation and use.

When enough people can collect, re-use and distribute public sector information, people organise around it in new ways, creating new enterprises and new communities. In each case, these are designed to offer new ways of solving old problems. In the past, only large companies, government or universities were able to re-use and recombine information. Now, the ability to mix and ‘mash’ data is far more widely available.

It's important not just for its mass of detail, and sensible conclusions, but because

Cabinet Office Minister Hilary Armstrong commissioned the report to ensure Government acted as a leader in understanding changes in communication and information technology.

The accompanying press release even describes it as "eagerly awaited". Hm, we shall see how eagerly from the Government's response....

No comments: