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Transparency is an idea whose time has come. People around the world are demanding much greater openness and accountability from their governments. Citizens are demanding that the state should be their servant, not their master, and the information that governments hold should be open for everyone to see.
Data has become a real currency that provides value for its creators, users, consumers and its re-users. It has become a recyclable property that not only connects government and the work it does with its citizens and industries, but also provides:
- greater clarity over government actions, spend and decision making as a means for government to be held to account
- details on performance of public services which through analysis can identify options for improving services, and which can transfer power into the hands of citizens to help them get the best out of these services
- a catalyst for innovation and a fuel to drive economic growth through new data driven products and services
As at October 2013 there had been more than 10,000 datasets released and listed on our central data portal data.gov.uk giving us the most comprehensive data resource of its type in the world. The UK’s own ambitious open data agenda has progressed rapidly over the last few years supporting the Prime Minister’s ethos that the UK will be ‘the most transparent government in the world’.
As we realise the Prime Minister’s ambition, we want open data to be part of a platform for independent collaboration by citizens, civil society, private companies and public servants.
Transparency, participation and accountability provide the essential foundation for economic, social and political progress by increasing the openness of institutions and public processes while maintaining and respecting the privacy of individuals.
To deliver this vision, we will focus on:
- ensuring better quality and a higher quantity of open data is released from government into the hands of citizens and businesses
- working with departments to prioritise open data requests and influence policies to secure their release, and maintain data.gov.uk as the world’s leading government data portal
- bringing the power of open data to a wider audience through working to make open data more accessible to all users
- helping developers create transformative open data applications, and increase the profile of open data and the government’s reforms
- maintaining Britain’s position as a global leader on open data
- supporting strengthening of the Open Government Partnership as a platform for open government reformers around the world, and work to provide an international centre of excellence and sharing best practice
In the Open Data White Paper published in June 2012, the government set out both that there should be a “presumption to publish” data; and Open Data Principles for public service. This was reinforced through the G8 Open Data Charter (June 2013), which set out the first of its 5 principles as ‘open data by default’.
Each of the 5 principles is underpinned by action oriented agreements. The cultural change required will be varied across our public services. It will be difficult to achieve for some organisations, particularly where important datasets are currently charged for and organisational business models are reliant on this revenue, or where a dataset contains data that is not owned by government.
Drawing on the 5 principles and their underpinning actions, the Charter included 3 collective actions that all member countries agreed to:
- develop a country specific G8 National Action Plan setting out how we will implement the Charter and on which we will report annually
- release high value data identified in 14 high categories; this plan sets out our progress to date and establishes timelines for release of further or better relevant data in the future
- map metadata through maintaining the G8 metadata mapping exercise
This action plan draws together the future work we will undertake through the following 6 commitments:
- We will release, publish and enhance the 14 key and high value datasets identified in the G8 Open Data Charter.
- We will work to ensure that all datasets released are published via our national data portal data.gov.uk.
- We will engage with civil society organisations and the public to identify which datasets would best be prioritised for release.
- We will support open data innovators at home and abroad through sharing experiences and tools.
- We will set a clear forward direction for open data work in the UK.
- We will create a National Information Infrastructure of government data.
These commitments and plans for delivery are detailed below and the action plan will be subject to ongoing reporting to ensure that progress is being made against the 6 commitments above and in turn the agreed principles. The main progress reporting will be done through the G8 in June 2014 and June 2015.
UK Commitment 1: We will release, publish and enhance the 14 key and high-value datasets identified in the G8 Open Data Charter.
2. Key datasets
|Dataset||Current availability||Planned availability (accessibility and granularity)||To be completed by|
|National statistics||Published||Work is ongoing with the Office for National Statistics to improve the accessibility of data through data.gov.uk.||December 2014|
|Maintain quarterly publication of crime and justice statistics, and introduce quarterly statistics from coroners.||From 2013|
|National maps||Ordnance Survey (OS) publish a number of products that are available under open licence; however more detailed mapping services are only available for a charge or under a commercial licence.||There remains continued interest in the availability of more detailed Ordnance Survey data. Ordnance Survey is due to provide a roadmap for further open data releases by the end of the 2013.||December 2014|
|National elections||There are a number of national election results published at present, however the format is inconsistent, copyright is applied which limits reuse, and data does not go down to a local level.||Further engagement with the independent Electoral commission on their future plans will commence in winter 2013.||April 2014|
|National budgets||Data is currently regularly published freely under open government licence as part of the COINS and OSCAR datasets.||Introduction of a new common chart of accounts will provide better comparability across central depts. Additionally GIST, a tool developed by the Government Digital Service in conjunction with HM Treasury, is allowing the data to be better understood. GIST development is on-going and will be adapted to reflected feedback from current users.||From April 2014|
3. High-value datasets
The UK already publishes a number of datasets within the high value dataset categories listed in the G8 Collective Action Plan. We will be working with departments and public bodies to make more available through the National Information Infrastructure. Below are examples of the range of data the UK is publishing. Much of this data is available under the Open Government Licence (OGL) and in non-proprietary formats; however there may be some data that currently is only available in a proprietary format or in a quasi-open format.
|G8 data category||Example dataset||Licence||Format||Further activity||To be completed by|
|Companies||Company register||Open Licence||Proprietary format||Free bulk accounts data product to be published. Work to establish a public register of beneficial ownership of UK companies.||Free bulk accounts data product to be released 31 Oct 2013.|
|Companies||Insolvency and bankruptcy||OGL||Proprietary format||Work is taking place to ensure publication in an open data format is the default||-|
|Crime and Justice||Crime statistics||OGL||Open format||On-going development of functionality||On-going, see change log|
|Crime and Justice||Justice statistics on national portal & Justice statistics||OGL||Various||CO, MOJ and Crime and Justice Transparency Sector Panel work to prioritise as part of NII.||-|
|Crime and Justice||Cost of organised crime||OGL||Open format||HO will publish under Open Government Licence and in open format.||2013|
|Crime and Justice||Statistics on immigration and citizenship||OGL||Open format||CO, MOJ and Crime and Justice Transparency Sector Panel work to prioritise as part of NII||-|
|Earth Observation||Weather observations||OGL||Open format||The Public Weather Service Customer Group is working with the Met Office to expand their already substantial portfolio of open data by increasing access to historic weather observations. This has taken a phased approach; to increase awareness of what is already available; to gather additional requirements for an online portal that will include access to a National Archive place of electronic deposit – the Nation’s memory of weather – that would make this medium to long term solution suitable for use and re-use by the open data community.||The first phase is now complete and work is continuing on phase 2, with options for the National Archive expected to be developed by spring 2014.|
|Education||National Pupil Database||Other||Proprietary format||Pilot allowing parents to access their child’s data and compare against other anonymised aggregated data||2014|
|Education||Free school meals||OGL||Proprietary format|
|Education||Home to school travel||OGL||Proprietary format|
|Education||Achievements and attainment||Various||Proprietary format|
|Energy and Environment||Pollution, Emissions and Air quality||OGL||Proprietary|
|Energy and Environment||Waste||Various||Various||Data on waste is collected by Local Authorities and the Environment Agency|
|Energy and Environment||Planning applications statistics||OGL||Open|
|Energy and Environment||Energy consumption||OGL||Proprietary|
|Finance and Contracts||Departmental budgets, spending and forecasts||OGL||Open||Departments to continually improve plain English descriptions|
|Finance and Contracts||Opportunities, tenders, contracts & construction project pipeline||OGL||Open||Subject to technical capability, enhance the scope, breadth and usability of published contractual data on the Contracts Finder system.||2014|
|Finance and Contracts||Local authority budgets, spending and grants||Various||Various||There is work ongoing to ensure the availability of local government data on data.gov.uk.||April 2014|
|Geospatial||Maps||Various||Proprietary format||Where there are barriers to release, it is being investigated as to whether the data can be released in an open data format. Otherwise work is taking place to ensure publication in an open data format is the default.|
|Global Development||Development and aid||OGL||Open format||DfID have complied with this commitment. Other government departments who spend money on Overseas Development Aid are working towards compliance.||All government departments to be compliant with this commitment by 2015|
|Global Development||UK overseas development assistance||OGL||Open format||DfID have complied with this commitment. Other government departments who spend money on Overseas Development Aid are working towards compliance.||All government departments to be compliant with this commitment by 2015|
|Government accountability and democracy||Departmental structures, senior staff names, salaries and contact details||OGL||Open||Departments continue to publish organograms every 6 months.||Ongoing|
|Government accountability and democracy||Hospitality, gifts, expenses and travel for senior officials||Various||Various||Departments continue to publish hospitality, gifts, expenses and travel data for senior officials||Ongoing|
|Government accountability and democracy||Legislation||OGL||Open|
|Government Accountability and Democracy||Local elections||Other||Various|
|Health||NHS reference costs||OGL||Open format||Historic cost reference data back to 1997, previously only available by written request, and received on CD, will now be available on data.gov.uk||Dec 2013|
|Health||Prescription data||OGL||Open format|
|Health||Data about General Practioner (GP) practices (ie Doctor/Primary Care) for example numbers of Patients Registered at a Practice||OGL||Open format||Data published will be broadened to include quality of care provided by GP practice and associated health outcomes.||Winter 2013|
|Health||Friends and Family Test||OGL||Open format||Programme that asks patients whether they would recommend the hospital services they used to friends and family requiring care. Broaden to cover all NHS Services.||March 2015|
|Health||Clinical performance, for example National Oesophago-gastric Cancer Audit||OGL||Open format||Make data available on surgeon level data, from national clinical audits, across 10 specialities and extend the programme to new treatment and conditions.||2014|
|For 10 new clinical areas (including cancer, children’s services, mental health and stroke) overarching measures that tell the public how well services are performing and meeting their needs will be made available.||During 2014 and 2015|
|Science and Research||UK Data Archive - partly funded by ESRC||Various||Proprietary format||The Data Archive is for Social Sciences and Humanities data. There is work taking place in the scientific community to generate standards and practices for open research data to allow for storage that improves its interoperability and linkage.|
|Social Mobility and Welfare||Housing benefit||OGL||Proprietary|
|Social Mobility and Welfare||Housing stocks||OGL||Proprietary|
|Social Mobility and Welfare||Labour Market Statistics||OGL||Proprietary format|
|Transport and Infrastructure||Rail timetables, NationalRail (login required)||Various||Proprietary formats|
|Transport and Infrastructure||Real Time Rail Performance (login required)||Various||Proprietary formats|
|Transport and Infrastructure||Traveline National Dataset||OGL||Open format|
|Transport and Infrastructure||National Coach Services||OGL||Open format|
|Transport and Infrastructure||National Passenger Survey||OGL||Proprietary format|
|Transport and Infrastructure||Bus Passenger Satisfaction Survey||OGL||Proprietary format|
|Transport and Infrastructure||Rail safety||OGL||Proprietary format|
|Transport and Infrastructure||Road accident data||OGL||Proprietary format|
|Transport and Infrastructure||National Public Access Transport Nodes (Department for Transport)||OGL||Open format|
|Transport and Infrastructure||National Public Transport Gazetteer (Department for Transport)||OGL||Open format|
|Transport and Infrastructure||Rail Network Inspire Data (Department for Transport)||OGL||Open format|
|Transport and Infrastructure||Road network Inspire data (Highways Agency)||OGL||Open format|
|Transport and Infrastructure||Car Parks (Department for Transport)||OGL||Open format|
|Transport and Infrastructure||Streetworks (Highways Agency)||OGL||Open format|
|Transport and Infrastructure||Cycle Routes||OGL||Open format|
|Transport and Infrastructure||Air Travel||OGL||Proprietary format||The Civil Aviation Act extended the powers of the Civil Aviation Authority to cover collection of data on service quality and passenger experience issues.||From Dec 2013 following completion of consultation|
|Transport and Infrastructure||MOT data||OGL||Proprietary format||Following the completion of public consultation Motoring Agencies will publish further data about MOTs.||June 2014|
|Transport and Infrastructure||Bulk Vehicle Data||OGL||Proprietary format||Motoring Agencies will commence a public consultation regarding the release of bulk vehicle data in early 2014 and subject to the result of the consultation identify a data release as a result||End 2014 subject to consultation|
|Transport and Infrastructure||Bus Registration Data||OGL||Proprietary format||The summary record of each bus registration (new, variation, cancellation) published in the Traffic Commissioner Notices and Proceeding.||March 2014|
|Transport and Infrastructure||Transport Accessibility Data||OGL||Proprietary format||Public transport accessibility files containing details of rail stations, bus services and unsuitable stops.||Dec 2013|
UK Commitment 2: We will work to ensure that all datasets released are published via our national data portal, data.gov.uk.
Data.gov.uk will be refreshed to incorporate new base coding and a new design to allow for easier discovery of content by October 2013.
We will undertake a metadata mapping exercise across UK government ‘corporate’ data and establish standardised common vocabulary for use in dataset publication by June 2015.
We will create a data dictionary to ensure consistent use of vocabulary in metadata going forward by June 2015.
We will comprehensively review the way that health data is made available through data.gov.uk to create a well organised channel with consistent metadata and descriptors by 2015.
We will refresh departmental profiles on data.gov.uk that will set out clearly existing commitments to release data, including a user friendly publication schedule. The improved profiles will act as a real time assessment of the delivery of each department by 2015.
UK Commitment 3: We will engage with civil society organisations and the public to identify which datasets would best be prioritised for release.
The UK government will work in partnership with the Civil Society Network to produce the Open Government Partnership UK 2013 National Action Plan to support the open government agenda by October 2013.
We will develop a strategy for wider engagement to drive the release, publication and use of government data by December 2013
UK Commitment 4: We will support open data innovators at home and abroad through sharing experiences and tools.
The UK government will review and expand the current information guides available on data.gov.uk to explain UK open data initiatives by Dec 2015.
We will create a shared space for the NHS to publish their experiences of embedding high quality standards into information by October 2013. We will then build on this through engagement with other countries and civil society organisations, to develop an accreditation scheme so that other countries and organisations are able to assess their progress, supported by peer review via the virtual network by Autumn 2014
UK Commitment 5: We will set a clear forward direction for open data work in the UK.
All government departments will refresh their departmental Open Data Strategies by June 2014.
We will implement open data commitments as set out in the Open Government Partnership UK National Action Plan 2013.
UK Commitment 6: We will create a National Information Infrastructure of Government data.
On 31 October 2013, the UK will launch a National Information Infrastructure (NII) that will take our open data work to a whole new level. This will be a world first in terms of scope, content and ambition. This development covers all aspects of the G8 principles and all high value dataset categories.
The NII will contain the data held by government which is likely to have the broadest and most significant economic and social impact if made available and accessible outside of government. The NII will, by its very nature, be a living infrastructure that will grow over time.
Departments will provide release dates for datasets in the first iteration of the NII, where there are no barriers to publication, and, where there are barriers, provide an explanation for non-publication by December 2013.
Departments, including their arm’s length bodies, will ensure that their list of unpublished datasets is comprehensive by March 2014.
Departments will ensure that they make public their assessment of the impact of the release of datasets by June 2014.
Departments should put all their datasets currently available under the Open Government Licence through the Open Data Institute’s open data certification process and make the outcome available through data.gov.uk by December 2014.
Cabinet Office will work with departments and ALBs to more broadly disseminate best practice in relation to the release of open data and to highlight examples and models of moving from charged data to open data by December 2014.