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Government opens doors to Open Data Institute

Sir Tim Berners-Lee will help government and business identify commercially valuable public data

The government will officially open its Open Data Institute in "Tech City" this week as part of its commitment to its own transparency action plan.

The Institute's founders Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the father of the web, and professor Nigel Shadbolt have assembled a team to help government and business identify commercially valuable public data.

The Institute also promises to nurture innovative data-driven start-ups, and support both the public and private sectors so they can work effectively with open data.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, who will formally open the ODI, said: "A belief in the power of open data to drive economic growth and create prosperity is central to our commitment to transparency.

"The Open Data Institute is already helping to foster a new generation of innovative businesses built on this 21st-century raw material, and to develop the specialist skills among data technologists that will see the creation of new products and services."

Maude said the government will work with the ODI to make data more readily available, accessible and maximise its potential for stimulating growth. In the Chancellor's Autumn Statement last year, the government committed to releasing key open datasets on health, transport, weather and welfare.

To date, open data releases include real-time public transport data, information on prescribing by GP surgeries, and hospital treatment outcomes linked to data on GP referrals.

Maude said: "We are already seeing the development of British technology businesses that have tapped into these datasets."

Overall, he said, the government has published almost 9,000 datasets so far, and "a number of data-driven start-ups are already working with the ODI at its East London base", Maude said.

Four data-driven start-up businesses are already working in the ODI's HQ. These are Placr, which creates commuter-focused apps and makes multiple transportation data sets available in one place for developers, and Locatable, which makes house-hunting easier by providing all the information people might need about a location.

In addition Open Corporates is aiming to bring all the information about all the companies in the world together in one place, and Mastodon C is a Big Data analytics company that plans to increase the environmental performance of cloud computing.


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