Headlines: November 18th, 2009

The Government is looking at making data held by Ordnance Survey more freely available as a way of driving improvements in public services. Gordon Brown told a seminar on Smarter Government that the agency would open up information relating to electoral and local authority boundaries, postcode areas and mid scale mapping information.

The plan is to consult on proposals to make Ordnance Survey data readily available so it can be used for digital innovation and to support democratic accountability. The Communities Secretary, John Denham, said public service reform had to be open so that those outside it could examine what was happening and suggest other ways of doing things. “This can only happen if the necessary information and data about what is currently delivered is easily and readily available,” he added.

The Prime Minister told the seminar in Downing Street that making available the data the agency held about local areas, like council boundaries would be an important first step to more open government. “We want people to be able to compare the outcomes and the costs for their own local services with the services delivered elsewhere, and suggest means of improving and driving change that help cut out duplication and waste, and make sure that every pound of public money is working as hard as it can,” he said.

Mr. Denham is working with ministerial colleague Stephen Timms, who has responsibility for the ‘Making Public Data Public’ initiative, Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt to ensure that their work embraces local government and local services. Mr. Timms said openness of data was as important for local government as it was for national government and would make people more connected to their community, giving them the tools to demand action on issues that mattered to them.