Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, helped launch data.gov.uk, a new British government Web site offering free access to a huge amount of public-sector data for private or commercial reuse.
The aim is to encourage British Web developers and companies to create Web sites and information feeds that combine the data with other information such as time, maps or other datasets – and potentially to discover hidden patterns that may not be obvious from the raw information.
The U.S. has recently launched a similar initiative. As part of President Barack Obama’s pledge to increase transparency in government, federal agencies were ordered to begin posting new data online at data.gov.
Agencies were to publish at least three data sets of “high value,” which the administration described as “information that can be used to increase agency accountability and responsiveness [or] improve public knowledge of the agency and its operations.” Federal officials said 188 high-value data sets have been posted on data.gov. The site, launched in May with 47 data sets, now has about 169,000 and has an average of 2,500 downloads a day, according to officials. Most recently, the Code of Federal Regulations dataset was made available.