Data to the people: the British government releases its datasets

Good news: sir Tim Berners-Lee convinced the British Gov to release its data for the public to use (thus spake BBC). data.gov.uklaunched in September; as I write it sports 2,879 datasets, and counting (in fact no one knows exactly how big is the mountain of data the British government – and all governments really – is sitting on). Developers seem interested: there’s already 29 apps running in those data, including the pretty spectacular Cyclestreets. The Mayor of London Boris Johnson wants to play too: he’s announced the opening of a digital warehouse with an initial 200 datasets relevant for the capital.

I find it hard to overestimate the impact of this move. Not only for the myriad of services that become possible, but also because it builds a place where hackers and civil servants are allowed – and indeed must – interact. In so doing, it facilitates the “coming together” of two cultures, the administration and the internet culture, whose alliance can really be a powerful force for modernity and civilization building, like I wrote after Wikicrats.

What about us Italians? It would be interesting to hear the opinion of some of those digital civil servants out there…

(Hat tip: Alberto D’Ottavi)

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