The government is today launching data.gov.uk, a website it hopes will enable developers to create new applications by offering free access to data collected by public bodies. The site will offer reams of public sector data, ranging from traffic statistics to crime figures, for private or commercial use.
The target is to kickstart a new wave of services that find novel ways to make use of the information. World wide web founder Tim Berners-Lee, was hired by PM Gordon Brown in June 2009 to oversee the project.
Commenting at the launch, Berners-Lee said: “It’s such an untapped resource. Government data is something we have already spent the money on… and when it is sitting there on a disk in somebody’s office it is wasted.”
Developers have already built a site that displays the location of schools according to the rating assigned to them by education watchdog Ofsted.
A beta, or test, version of the site has been running since September, with more than 2,400 developers registering to test the site and provide feedback.
So far, 10 applications have been created using the data feeds, including PlanningAlerts, a free service that combs local authority planning websites looking for planning applications.
It then automatically e-mails details of applications in the local area to anyone who has signed up for the service.
Another site, FillThatHole, allows people to report potholes and other road hazards across the UK, using location data from the Office for National Statistics.