What does freeing London's data mean for Londoners? The London Datastore blogs about the endless possibilities with freely available public data.
In January 2010, we launched the London Datastore. It was our first step in releasing London’s public sector data for free use by individuals and organisations all over the world. Freely available data is at the core of a global movement to make government more transparent and open. It's a sizeable challenge - releasing data can be tough for public sector organisations - but only three months after launch, there is growing understanding about just how powerful free data can be.
When we launched Datastore at City Hall, we promised to lobby all of the GLA group (Transport for London, The Metropolitan Police, London Fire Brigade and the London Development Agency) to make their data available too. We're making good progress.
For example, Transport for London recently released sets of data on the accessibility of their Underground stations. To the fortunate majority of us who don't have to consider accessibility issues on a day-to-day level, the benefit of this data may not be instantly apparent. But consider, then, that data in this format is exactly the type of information that software developers can use to build iPhone apps that could, for example, show the disabled people of this city the most accessible transport routes in and around London. London is full of innovators up to the job - all they need is the data.
Other benefits of freeing public data relate to enabling citizens to better hold their governments to account - and London is no exception. If you want to know what the Greater London Authority spends its money on, see what some young developers did with the supplier income data that we put in the Datastore. Using an application called ‘What Can I Buy’, you can simply enter a figure and see what the GLA bought for that amount. Incredibly, this tool was built in a single afternoon – again, all it needed was the data.
We are currently compiling lists of polling stations around London , which we know that developers will use for important applications such as Open Street Map, an editable map of the whole world. We want as many people as possible (Londoners or otherwise) to use the Datastore to find out what they need to know about performance, value for money or anything else that's important to them. People are used to having information at the touch of a button and we want our data to be available in the same way.
Take a look at the information in the Datastore and tell us if there is a dataset you would like to see. We will do our best to make it available. And if you want to know more about what you can do with data, why not read Richard Walker's blog about just how easy it is to unearth the stories contained in our data. You really don't have to be an expert!
If you're interested in finding out more about what's possible with our data, you can watch the webcast of our event 'The Possibilities of Real Time Data' held at City Hall on Monday 19 April. Let us know your thoughts on Twitter #prtd.
To get updates on what the London Datastore are delivering for London, follow the London Datastore blog.