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Government open data review begins to gather evidence

A UK government-sponsored review on widening access to public sector data has begun work and is expected to report in the Spring of 2013.

The review, which was announced in June by ministers at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Cabinet Office, is a part of the Open Data White Paper. It will be lead by Stephan Shakespeare, chairman of the Data Strategy Board.

The aim is both to improve access to data and examine the market for public sector information. Shakespeare’s team will examine data from the Public Data Group, which comprises the Ordnance Survey, Met Office, Land Registry, and Companies House. Information from some other parts of the public sector will also be considered.

In addition to taking stock of current use of public sector information, the review will also look at the barriers to developing commercial services that use public data. It will also examine how organisations secure access to public sector data, and the impact of competitiveness on businesses in this market.

The review will make recommendations to ministers who will publish a formal response.

The review is intended to complement the work of the Data Strategy Board, and other similar projects will be aligned to the review in order to avoid overlap, according to a BIS statement.

Commenting on the review, Shakespeare said, “I want to explore how we can get better data efficiency from the wealth of information out there and how it can work for businesses and the public sector alike.”

Shakespeare says he will also work with public and private sector advocates of open data and with the Open Data Institute, a research and training institution based in Tech City Shoreditch that advises government and is co-founded by Tim Berners-Lee.