March 6, 2012

A Right to Data: Fulfilling the promise of open public data in the UK

A Right to Data says that all non-personal data held by the public sector should be made available to the public for free. The report says that ending the practice of reselling key datasets like maps and postcodes would cost the government around £50 million a year in lost fees and charges. The overall benefits of opening up all publicly held data would far outweigh this, with some estimates suggesting that the upside for the economy could run into the billions of pounds. Entrepreneurs could use this data to create a wealth of new products and services of value to both businesses and consumers. It calls for the government to enshrine a “right to data” in legislation within the lifetime of this Parliament.

Opening up public data so that it can be linked, analysed and made useful could provide a huge economic and social boost. Data on travel and transit networks is already being used in apps and services that help people make quicker, cheaper journeys – and there is still potential for further improvement. Opening up core reference data like maps and postcodes, along with data on planning applications, local amenities and business registrations, could enable new and innovative services for property search and valuation.


Chris Yiu

Head of Digital Government, 2011-13

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