Government data to become available online

Professor Tim Berners-Lee, who is one of the prime movers behind the creation of the internet itself, has just launched a new website for the government in order to give UK citizens better access to the data dealt with by those in power.

Now anyone can head over to and browse through a vast amount of data compiled and used by the authorities. This includes lists of all of the schools in the UK and also holds useful information relating to traffic densities on the nation’s road networks.

The government is planning to make increasingly large amounts of data available online, with access to figures and information about public sector bodies including the NHS and the Ministry for Transport, along with meteorological data from the Met Office.

Professor Berners-Lee believes that the increased availability and flow of information between the authorities and the public will not only provide a greater sense of transparency, but will also help to boost the economy over time.

He was approached by the government to supervise the data project and said in a recent interview with the BBC reported by Computer Weekly that unlocking the data currently in the public domain but inaccessible to many would open up new avenues for commerce.

What the project aims to ultimately achieve is better communication between the government and the voting public. The data contained on the new site has been stored in such a way that made it difficult for people to access it, despite the fact that public money was funding its creation and this new website has opened the flood gates.

The website went into beta launch back in September 2009 and nearly two and a half thousand developers registered in order to take part in testing and provide feedback as to whether the system worked.

At the moment there are 2500 individual public sector organisations contributing data to the site and as well as being a dedicated search service, there are a number of useful applications which provide free alerts. For example, the PlanningAlerts app lets users know when planning permission is being sought in their area.

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