Interesting news from the UK Cabinet Office yesterday: announcing their new open data white paper, as well as departmental open data strategy documents.

There is a lot there to digest, but I just wanted to highlight some points that we think are particularly notable.

More data

The government is committing to expanding the amount of open data released and taking steps to instill a new open data culture in departments.

More Linked Data

“The Government intends to adopt the Five Star Scheme as a measure of the usability of its open data” – an explicit recognition of the aspiration for Linked Data, at least where it can be shown to be cost effective.

(We were very pleased to see that our work on Open Data Communities for the DCLG was featured as one of the case studies in the report, as an illustration of the Five Star approach).

Also, “a new cross-government Linked Data Working Group will be established over the coming months”. And…“This provision of a core of authoritative identifiers…will be the key to connecting data across the information economy”. Yes! It will!

Using W3C standards

“Public data will be published using open standards, and following relevant recommendations of the World Wide Web Consortium” – and of course the W3C is recommending that you should use Linked Data :-) Ok, maybe not for everything. But this is a recognition that open data should use the power of the web, and should be built on top of open standards.

Making it usable

“Public bodies should actively encourage the re-use of their public data”. This is possibly the most important of all the points. It recognises that the value of open data is only realised when it is used – and to ensure it is used, you have to understand and take account of the needs and desires of the people who might be using it. This is a new area, and both data users and data publishers have a lot to learn. I expect it will take time for this to start working effectively, but a willingness to engage with the data using community is encouraging.

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