As Tim Berners Lee calls for Governments, Scientists and Institutions to make their data openly available on the Web and Government launches its Open Data Portal this afternoon we held the first meeting of our Innovative Data Projects group – this is just one of the new “20-20” projects that the the recent Council Budget meeting agreed £1million funding for.
Barbara Janke the Council Leader came up with the name (so best not change it) but the working title is “Opening-up our Data”, which nicely sums up what the group is all about…or not?
Because, as with any innovation-type project in Local Government, there are justifiable worries about staff capacity (“what if we are over whelmed by the demand”), timescale (“we have so many priorities”), legality, procurement and public reputation. The last is always a particular concern…
“What if we free up our data and people use it against us?” and “What if people use data in ways that we did not think of and cannot control?”
I find this type of reasoning quite interesting. Some council colleagues perhaps do not recognise that Public Sector employees are generally held in about as much public esteem as… er, bankers? In my mind, being open and honest with data can only help us to build trust and confidence.
Anyway, by the end of the meeting all anxieties had been voiced and enthusiasm had triumphed – everyone was pretty much in agreement that opening-up Council data is a good thing to aspire to.
Peter Holt, who is Bristol City Council’s Director of Communications suggested that I blog the whole thing. So I feel duly empowered to report back on our progress. Keep an eye out here.