Maude announces new £8 million investment in open data

by Victoria Thomason

19 Dec 2012

A great initiative by Francis Maude for encouraging a more open and transparent data centric public sector whilst continuing his SME support….

“The Cabinet Office has today announced a new investment of £8 million to help public bodies release data.

Announced by Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude and Business and Skills Minister Matthew Hancock, the money will help companies develop commercial opportunities for data.

The funding is set to run until 2015, following a familiar 3-year plan for government.

The ministers announced three measures to open up access to public data, these were:

£7.5m Data Strategy Board Breakthrough Fund, to which public sector bodies can apply
£850,000 Open Data Immersion Programme, to which companies can apply
Upgrades to the format in which Ordnance Survey data can be downloaded, to make it easier for companies to use

“This new funding will help us to exploit the power of open data to fuel social and economic growth. It will free up more data for commercial exploitation and help drive innovation in public services,” said Maude.

The Cabinet Office has said that the funding announcement coincides with the publishing of the first quarterly Written Ministerial Statement, which was published today.

The statement described how departments were complying with the open data mandate, set out by the Prime Minister.
Ideas for new products and services

The big money, which is going into the new Breakthrough Fund, will be there to help government departments, agencies and local authorities. It is hoped that the funding will help to release data where there are short term technical barriers to data release.

The Open Data Immersion Programme will be opened up to companies – with a particular focus on SMEs. The idea is that the companies will apply and then be able to reuse government data to develop ideas for new products and services.

The money will also be used to organise a series of themed events and competitions, run by the Open Data Institute, designed with SMEs and start-ups in mind – these are aimed at giving these companies a better understanding of the business opportunities provided by the use of data sets.

“The value and scope for open data is extremely significant. Open data can improve public services, generate new revenue streams for companies and help to stimulate economic growth. That’s why we are backing it through these new investments,” said Hancock.

“We want to help enable everyone to benefit from open data – whether it’s taxpayers, businesses, the public sector or individuals.”

Maude also discussed transparency, and that it was also about sharpening accountability in government:

“That is why today we are also publishing information showing how departments are meeting their own demanding open data obligations. We are at the start of this process and it has never been done before. There is still some way to go to meet all our obligations, but now we have a benchmark against which progress can be measured.

“This will act as a spur to further data releases, of higher quality and will help embed transparency in the private sector”.

The news follows a big data roundtable back in October, in which fellow MP Margaret Hodge still portrayed governmental scepticism in Big Data.

All of the measures announced are expected to be in place by early April 2013.”