Government boost for data industry

GB and Royal Mail net Govt briefThe data industry could receive a major shot in the arm following the Government announcement that it is to create a Public Data Corporation (PDC) to bring together public bodies and house datasets for commercial use.
The Corporation will, for the first time, bring together Government bodies and data into one organisation and provide an unprecedented level of easily accessible public information and drive further efficiency in the delivery of public services. However, it indicated that not all information will be free to access.
Supporting the Government’s growth agenda, the PDC will open up opportunities for developers, businesses and members of the public to generate social and economic growth through the use of data.
The PDC will also have the potential to attract investment, reinforcing and accelerating the development of these assets and their contribution to the knowledge economy.
By bringing valuable Government data together, governed by a consistent set of principles around data collection, maintenance, production and charging, the Government says it can share best practice, drive efficiencies and create innovative public services for citizens and businesses.
Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude said: “We have entered a new era of transparency in Government and have already made an unprecedented level of data available. But we want to go further and faster, this agenda is more important than ever.
“Public sector information underpins a growing part of the economy. The technology that is around today allows people to use and re-use this information in new and different ways. The role of Government is to help maximise the benefits of these developments.
“A Public Data Corporation will bring benefits in three areas. Firstly and most importantly it will allow us to make data freely available, and where charging for data is appropriate to do so on a consistent basis. It will be a centre where developers, businesses and members of the public can access data and use it to develop internet applications, inform their business decisions or identify ways to run public services more efficiently. Some of this work is already taking place but there is huge potential to do more. Secondly, it will be a centre of excellence where expertise in collecting, managing, storing and distributing data can be brought together. This will enable substantial operational synergies. Thirdly, it can be a vehicle which will attract private investment.”
The Government has outlined examples of the benefits the PDC could provide:
• A more consistent approach towards access to and accessibility of public sector information;
• Make more data free at the point of use, where this is appropriate and consistent with ensuring value for taxpayers’ money. This would create more opportunities for citizens, social enterprises and businesses to use public sector data in new and innovative ways;
• Create a centre of excellence for collecting, holding and managing public data, driving further efficiencies and improving productivity across the public sector;
• Identifying how data Government already holds can be used more effectively to provide better and cheaper public services; and
• Create more certainty and predictability – encouraging businesses to invest in and develop new and innovative products and applications based on data. It will also provide opportunities for private investment in the corporation.
The Government aims to establish the Public Data Corporation in 2011.

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