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Presentation to Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information (APPSI), September 17, 2009

Presentation to Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information (APPSI), September 17, 2009

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Opening up local government data: APPSI Presentation Opening up local government data: APPSI Presentation Presentation Transcript

  • OPENING UP LOCAL GOVERNMENT INFORMATION A presentation to the Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information (APPSI) September 17, 2009 by Chris Taggart, OpenlyLocal.com
  • WHY OPEN UP LOCAL GOVERNMENT INFORMATION?
  • WHY OPEN UP LOCAL GOVERNMENT INFORMATION? • Local is becoming more important All three main parties plan to devolve power to local authorities, with a consequent increase in focus on their workings and quality of service
  • WHY OPEN UP LOCAL GOVERNMENT INFORMATION? • Local is becoming more important All three main parties plan to devolve power to local authorities, with a consequent increase in focus on their workings and quality of service • Democracy requires transparency The expenses scandal has reduced trust in elected representatives, leading to greater demands for transparency. Local government in many ways is worse than central government, being poorly understood and fairly opaque, with much basic democratic data (e.g. voting records) simply not available
  • WHY OPEN UP LOCAL GOVERNMENT INFORMATION? • Local is becoming more important All three main parties plan to devolve power to local authorities, with a consequent increase in focus on their workings and quality of service • Democracy requires transparency The expenses scandal has reduced trust in elected representatives, leading to greater demands for transparency. Local government in many ways is worse than central government, being poorly understood and fairly opaque, with much basic democratic data (e.g. voting records) simply not available • It’s our data, we have a right to it Expectations have increased about access to data, through the FoI Act, OPSI & APPSI’s work, and sites such as TheyWorkForYou and data.gov
  • WHY OPEN UP LOCAL GOVERNMENT INFORMATION?
  • WHY OPEN UP LOCAL GOVERNMENT INFORMATION? • Local media are dying This will increase the disconnect between the public (when they do bother to vote – local elections are generally poorly attended, and votes often cast on national lines) and the people they elect
  • WHY OPEN UP LOCAL GOVERNMENT INFORMATION? • Local media are dying This will increase the disconnect between the public (when they do bother to vote – local elections are generally poorly attended, and votes often cast on national lines) and the people they elect • The goalposts of an ‘acceptable website’ are moving As the internet is ever more a part of our lives, and commercial websites increase in quality, experience and functionality, our patience for messy, difficult-to-use, poorly structured local-authority websites is diminishing fast
  • WHY OPEN UP LOCAL GOVERNMENT INFORMATION? • Local media are dying This will increase the disconnect between the public (when they do bother to vote – local elections are generally poorly attended, and votes often cast on national lines) and the people they elect • The goalposts of an ‘acceptable website’ are moving As the internet is ever more a part of our lives, and commercial websites increase in quality, experience and functionality, our patience for messy, difficult-to-use, poorly structured local-authority websites is diminishing fast • Local budgets are going to be tightened and services cut This will increase tensions if it is not done openly and with the involvement of the community
  • WHY OPEN UP LOCAL GOVERNMENT INFORMATION? • Local media are dying This will increase the disconnect between the public (when they do bother to vote – local elections are generally poorly attended, and votes often cast on national lines) and the people they elect • The goalposts of an ‘acceptable website’ are moving As the internet is ever more a part of our lives, and commercial websites increase in quality, experience and functionality, our patience for messy, difficult-to-use, poorly structured local-authority websites is diminishing fast • Local budgets are going to be tightened and services cut This will increase tensions if it is not done openly and with the involvement of the community • Open access to raw information leads to innovation and added value
  • BUT DON’T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT
  • BUT DON’T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT “From the performance of a local school to the most recent statistics on crime we need to make sure that people have the facts they need to make informed choices and hold public services to account.” Tessa Jowell MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office, June 2009
  • BUT DON’T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT “From the performance of a local school to the most recent statistics on crime we need to make sure that people have the facts they need to make informed choices and hold public services to account.” Tessa Jowell MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office, June 2009 “The founding principle of local government is that citizens have the right to influence the decisions that affect their lives and their communities. There is a large and untapped pool of people who would like more say in what happens in their area” Department of Communities and Local Government, Strengthening Local Democracy Consultation, July 2009
  • BUT DON’T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT “From the performance of a local school to the most recent statistics on crime we need to make sure that people have the facts they need to make informed choices and hold public services to account.” Tessa Jowell MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office, June 2009 “The founding principle of local government is that citizens have the right to influence the decisions that affect their lives and their communities. There is a large and untapped pool of people who would like more say in what happens in their area” Department of Communities and Local Government, Strengthening Local Democracy Consultation, July 2009 “Because [councils] all present... information differently, it’s impossible for the public, charities or private companies to effectively collate this data, compare and contrast [their] performance and hold [them] to account. David Cameron, Feb 2008
  • BUT DON’T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT
  • BUT DON’T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT “Increasing citizen awareness of government functions to enable greater accountability; contributing valuable information about the world; enabling the government, the country, and the world to function more efficiently.” “Whatever else, the raw data should be made available as soon as possible... As a lower priority, nice user interfaces should be made to it - if interested communities outside government have not already done it” Tim Berners-Lee, Putting Government Data Online, June 2009
  • BUT DON’T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT “Increasing citizen awareness of government functions to enable greater accountability; contributing valuable information about the world; enabling the government, the country, and the world to function more efficiently.” “Whatever else, the raw data should be made available as soon as possible... As a lower priority, nice user interfaces should be made to it - if interested communities outside government have not already done it” Tim Berners-Lee, Putting Government Data Online, June 2009 “Local Government forms possibly the largest conduit of citizen centric governance within the UK where ‘policy directives’ impact directly on the local electorate... Local Government as a sector needs to be seen as an active participant and partner in the process.” APPSI’s response to Power of Information Task Force Report
  • LOCAL DATA FUTURE: THE DREAM Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmcl/50806774
  • LOCAL DATA FUTURE: THE DREAM • A rich universe of local and hyperlocal sites generating awareness of and involvement with the community Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmcl/50806774
  • LOCAL DATA FUTURE: THE DREAM • A rich universe of local and hyperlocal sites generating awareness of and involvement with the community Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmcl/50806774
  • LOCAL DATA FUTURE: THE DREAM • A rich universe of local and hyperlocal sites generating awareness of and involvement with the community • Local data becomes part of the linked data universe bringing myriad benefits or shared knowledge, increased efficiency and greater transparency Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmcl/50806774
  • LOCAL DATA FUTURE: THE DREAM • A rich universe of local and hyperlocal sites generating awareness of and involvement with the community • Local data becomes part of the linked data universe bringing myriad benefits or shared knowledge, increased efficiency and greater transparency Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmcl/50806774
  • LOCAL DATA FUTURE: THE DREAM • A rich universe of local and hyperlocal sites generating awareness of and involvement with the community • Local data becomes part of the linked data universe bringing myriad benefits or shared knowledge, increased efficiency and greater transparency • A renewed public relationship with local authorities which reassert their position at the heart of their community Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmcl/50806774
  • LOCAL DATA FUTURE: THE DREAM • A rich universe of local and hyperlocal sites generating awareness of and involvement with the community • Local data becomes part of the linked data universe bringing myriad benefits or shared knowledge, increased efficiency and greater transparency • A renewed public relationship with local authorities which reassert their position at the heart of their community Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmcl/50806774
  • LOCAL DATA FUTURE: THE REALITY
  • LOCAL DATA FUTURE: THE REALITY • Council websites – as far as reuse of data goes – are largely basic, verging on hopeless
  • LOCAL DATA FUTURE: THE REALITY • Council websites – as far as reuse of data goes – are largely basic, verging on hopeless
  • LOCAL DATA FUTURE: THE REALITY • Council websites – as far as reuse of data goes – are largely basic, verging on hopeless • Many local councils, even large, well-funded ones, have little awareness of the issues and commission websites that actively prevent access to the data and underlying structure
  • LOCAL DATA FUTURE: THE REALITY • Council websites – as far as reuse of data goes – are largely basic, verging on hopeless • Many local councils, even large, well-funded ones, have little awareness of the issues and http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/cs/Satellite? commission websites that actively prevent c=Page&childpagename=Member-Services %2FPageLayout&cid=1223092734434&pagename access to the data and underlying structure =BCC%2FCommon%2FWrapper%2FWrapper
  • LOCAL DATA FUTURE: THE REALITY • Council websites – as far as reuse of data goes – are largely basic, verging on hopeless • Many local councils, even large, well-funded ones, have little awareness of the issues and http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/cs/Satellite? commission websites that actively prevent c=Page&childpagename=Member-Services %2FPageLayout&cid=1223092734434&pagename access to the data and underlying structure =BCC%2FCommon%2FWrapper%2FWrapper • Councils guard their territories fiercely and many have not even embraced Freedom of Information, let alone considered opening up their raw data
  • LOCAL DATA FUTURE: THE REALITY • Council websites – as far as reuse of data goes – are largely basic, verging on hopeless • Many local councils, even large, well-funded ones, have little awareness of the issues and http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/cs/Satellite? commission websites that actively prevent c=Page&childpagename=Member-Services %2FPageLayout&cid=1223092734434&pagename access to the data and underlying structure =BCC%2FCommon%2FWrapper%2FWrapper • Councils guard their territories fiercely and many have not even embraced Freedom of Information, let alone considered opening up their raw data
  • LOCAL DATA FUTURE: THE REALITY • Council websites – as far as reuse of data goes – are largely basic, verging on hopeless • Many local councils, even large, well-funded ones, have little awareness of the issues and http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/cs/Satellite? commission websites that actively prevent c=Page&childpagename=Member-Services %2FPageLayout&cid=1223092734434&pagename access to the data and underlying structure =BCC%2FCommon%2FWrapper%2FWrapper • Councils guard their territories fiercely and many have not even embraced Freedom of Information, let alone considered opening up their raw data • Hyperlocal sites rarely have the technical know-how to extract information from their council website, and depend on a huge investment in time from dedicated individuals just to maintain basic information
  • LOCAL DATA FUTURE: THE REALITY • Council websites – as far as reuse of data goes – are largely basic, verging on hopeless • Many local councils, even large, well-funded ones, have little awareness of the issues and http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/cs/Satellite? commission websites that actively prevent c=Page&childpagename=Member-Services %2FPageLayout&cid=1223092734434&pagename access to the data and underlying structure =BCC%2FCommon%2FWrapper%2FWrapper • Councils guard their territories fiercely and many have not even embraced Freedom of Information, let alone considered opening up their raw data • Hyperlocal sites rarely have the technical know-how to extract information from their council website, and depend on a huge investment in time from dedicated individuals just to maintain basic information
  • ENTER OPENLYLOCAL.COM Clean, bare, simple and easy-to-use
  • Scrapes Local Authority websites... (basic info for all, scraped info for over 70 so far)
  • it e sp m.at a ( &i n.mg 'div te La .m sp m b g an .at( el[t Cont ne .m 'd ex en xt g i t t _n Labe v.mg ()*= od l[ Co "V e. in text nten enue ne "] r_ ()*= t ') Par te xt "Ven & .s ue tr ip "]') . ser Parses the rough and ready information...
  • ...into structured data (linking members to committees, wards, for example)
  • Matches up council data with other references (ONS SNAC code, WhatDoTheyKnow id, Wikipedia url) and datasets from central government and Guardian Datastore
  • • Makes the whole thing available in open form as... an accessible web page (great for screenreaders)
  • Available as... XML or JSON data
  • or as... RDFa (linked data)
  • PLUS, WITH OPENLYLOCAL YOU CAN...
  • PLUS, WITH OPENLYLOCAL YOU CAN... • Subscribe to meetings to your online diary (iCal, Outlook, Google Calendar)
  • PLUS, WITH OPENLYLOCAL YOU CAN... • Subscribe to meetings to your online diary (iCal, Outlook, Google Calendar)
  • PLUS, WITH OPENLYLOCAL YOU CAN... • Subscribe to meetings to your online diary (iCal, Outlook, Google Calendar) • Filter minutes and agendas by keyword
  • PLUS, WITH OPENLYLOCAL YOU CAN... • Subscribe to meetings to your online diary (iCal, Outlook, Google Calendar) • Filter minutes and agendas by keyword
  • PLUS, WITH OPENLYLOCAL YOU CAN... • Subscribe to meetings to your online diary (iCal, Outlook, Google Calendar) • Filter minutes and agendas by keyword • Subscribe to RSS feed for alerts when more documents with that keyword are added
  • PLUS, WITH OPENLYLOCAL YOU CAN... • Subscribe to meetings to your online diary (iCal, Outlook, Google Calendar) • Filter minutes and agendas by keyword • Subscribe to RSS feed for alerts when more documents with that keyword are added
  • AND... Import the data into Google Spreadsheets, Yahoo Pipes, or your own mashup
  • BUT...
  • BUT... • Copyright is a BIG problem -- we would like to release the data under an open license (e.g. OpenDatabase or Click-Use) but can’t, and could be forced to remove data by “rights holders”
  • BUT... • Copyright is a BIG problem -- we would like to release the data under an open license (e.g. OpenDatabase or Click-Use) but can’t, and could be forced to remove data by “rights holders” • Some websites are so bad that the information is REALLY difficult to get out (e.g. Birmingham), never mind adhering to best standards, and others actively try to block access to the data (West Lothian)
  • BUT... • Copyright is a BIG problem -- we would like to release the data under an open license (e.g. OpenDatabase or Click-Use) but can’t, and could be forced to remove data by “rights holders” • Some websites are so bad that the information is REALLY difficult to get out (e.g. Birmingham), never mind adhering to best standards, and others actively try to block access to the data (West Lothian) • Lack of core infrastructure data to tie things together (e.g. council/ward boundaries), and also of unified IDs that are actually used by government
  • BUT... • Copyright is a BIG problem -- we would like to release the data under an open license (e.g. OpenDatabase or Click-Use) but can’t, and could be forced to remove data by “rights holders” • Some websites are so bad that the information is REALLY difficult to get out (e.g. Birmingham), never mind adhering to best standards, and others actively try to block access to the data (West Lothian) • Lack of core infrastructure data to tie things together (e.g. council/ward boundaries), and also of unified IDs that are actually used by government • Much of the information just isn’t online (e.g. councillor voting records), or is very patchy (election results)
  • BUT... • Copyright is a BIG problem -- we would like to release the data under an open license (e.g. OpenDatabase or Click-Use) but can’t, and could be forced to remove data by “rights holders” • Some websites are so bad that the information is REALLY difficult to get out (e.g. Birmingham), never mind adhering to best standards, and others actively try to block access to the data (West Lothian) • Lack of core infrastructure data to tie things together (e.g. council/ward boundaries), and also of unified IDs that are actually used by government • Much of the information just isn’t online (e.g. councillor voting records), or is very patchy (election results) • Huge amounts of stuff is unnecessarily in PDF and Word docs -- it’s trivial to turn structured data into a PDF; darned hard to do it the other way
  • WHAT DO WE NEED? (AND BY WE I MEAN THE COMMUNITY AT LARGE)
  • WHAT DO WE NEED? (AND BY WE I MEAN THE COMMUNITY AT LARGE) • All local authority democratic data, data generated as part of its statutory role, and data released as a result of a Freedom of Information request must be reusable under an open licence (e.g. similar to Crown Copyright Click Use Licence)
  • WHAT DO WE NEED? (AND BY WE I MEAN THE COMMUNITY AT LARGE) • All local authority democratic data, data generated as part of its statutory role, and data released as a result of a Freedom of Information request must be reusable under an open licence (e.g. similar to Crown Copyright Click Use Licence) • Basic infrastructure data to allow us (or anyone else) to tie things together, especially geo data for Local Authority and Ward boundaries
  • WHAT DO WE NEED? (AND BY WE I MEAN THE COMMUNITY AT LARGE) • All local authority democratic data, data generated as part of its statutory role, and data released as a result of a Freedom of Information request must be reusable under an open licence (e.g. similar to Crown Copyright Click Use Licence) • Basic infrastructure data to allow us (or anyone else) to tie things together, especially geo data for Local Authority and Ward boundaries • Government Departments to use ONS SNAC ids (or some other universal id) when publishing local data/stats
  • WHAT DO WE NEED? (AND BY WE I MEAN THE COMMUNITY AT LARGE) • All local authority democratic data, data generated as part of its statutory role, and data released as a result of a Freedom of Information request must be reusable under an open licence (e.g. similar to Crown Copyright Click Use Licence) • Basic infrastructure data to allow us (or anyone else) to tie things together, especially geo data for Local Authority and Ward boundaries • Government Departments to use ONS SNAC ids (or some other universal id) when publishing local data/stats • Simple, best-practice recommendations to Local Government to follow re websites and open data (see Birmingham fiasco)
  • LINKS • http://OpenlyLocal.com • http://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/GovData.html • http://twitter.com/#search?q=%23bccwebsite