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UK Shows the Way Toward Public Data 2.0

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, July 2 2008

Our cousins across the pond continue to show that "government 2.0" isn't just something that we have to do "to" government, but it's something government can do "with" us. The Power of Information Task Force has just launched a contest called "Show Us a Better Way" that is calling for "ideas for new products that could improve the way public information is communicated." They've put up 20,000 pounds for the winning idea, which is something like a gazillion dollars (these days). This is really kewl.

To make the contest really productive, the taskforce has brought together a wealth of government data-sets and useful APIs, including several previously unavailable treasure-troves, including neighborhood statistics (covering such things as access to services, community wellbeing/social environment, crime and safety, economic deprivation, education, skills and training), health care information, a list of all UK schools and the official notices of the London Gazette.

The kinds of things the organizers are looking for are detailed here. They include obvious mashups like crime mapping, and services like mySociety's "FixMyStreet." But then there's "RateMyPrison" (that's for visitors, not inmates, I think), the "Army Rumour Service," and a host of other fantastic civic software projects collected on a wiki that is worth its weight in gold.

I'm not surprised to see Tom Loosemore's name showing up helping manage the site's blog--he's long been a leader in this space from his days around mySociety to his work at the BBC. Kudos to all!