The Guardian is reporting that the data.gov.uk website is expected to launch tomorrow (now today) - but apparently it's already live - so everything's in place bar the virtual ribbon cutting by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the guy who invented the world wide web.
So what's the big deal about this? Well - it's a huge step forward in terms of public accountability - just making government data open and available for the public is the essence of transparency and democracy. But because of where we are in the world of web development, it's also ensuring that some really useful applications are being made of this data for very little or no public money. Data.gov.uk features both the open data sets and showcases some of the very useful applications or 'apps' that were made with one or more sets of data. Apps that will help you find a job locally or understand how public money is spent.
Local Data for Local People
I'm more excited about the possibilities of local government data being thrown into the mix. This is the information that has the potential to make the huge difference in people's day to day lives. The US Federal Government has been doing a lot with open data, but some of the most exciting uses of data has been coming from local government in places like Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Chicago (see Apps for Democracy).
We've got a great opportunity to do great things in the UK, locally. London launched its data store very recently. And there's a panel of the great and the good working on the issue of data in local government. Looking at what types of data should be focused on and how we can support the local government sector to open up data. Will Perrin, a member of the panel, has been asking what types of data we should be looking to expose (list of really interesting responses here). But just as interesting a question is what are the blockers standing in the way of opening data and what are the things we need to make that data really useful for the sector and the public.
The Knowledge Hub
The IDeA's Knowledge Hub will have an extensive data layer - not holding, but taking advantage of and helping councils and their partners use open and linked data. And since our focus is as much on how practitioners, partners and Members can use data - we'll be linking conversations and communities (of practice) as well as information. You can help us shape how we do that by joining in the conversation.