The coalition government is currently showing the first signs of backtracking on its Open Data agenda by creating a new Public Data Corporation to deal with high value public sector information produced by specialist government agencies. This public information, -- much of it core reference data such as addresses, maps, weather and registers -- is unique and critical for a modern developed economy and society. It is also critical for the development of an Open Data ecosystem. The current proposals consolidate the status quo, meaning this information will continue to be unaccessible in an open format. This is a missed opportunity that goes against the promises by the Prime Minister to make UK a global leader in Open Data.
In UK the bodies producing this public information, called Trading Funds, have been generating their own income from commercial sales, both of basic raw data and value added products. According to the consultation, the PDC aims to bring together several of these organisations in order to “align the way they manage and release public data for reuse”.
The stated aims of the PDC are to:
- provide a more consistent approach towards access to and accessibility of public sector information, balancing the desire for more data free for re-us whilst ensuring affordability and value for taxpayers;
- create a centre of excellence driving further efficiencies in the public sector;
- and create a vehicle that can attract private investment.
In plain speak this means selling off as much as possible while regulating licensing and pricing. The government has made clear that a general move towards free open data is not an option, as it would make it impossible to attract private investment.
For a more detailed analysis of the proposals and our main questions see our more detailed briefing.