A short note for Mr Stott before he comes to see us all…

There’s plenty of discussion going on in Government about putting data out and what to put out and how to put it out and all that nonsense. Especially in local government.

It sounds like there’s concern that releasing data isn’t good enough and that government has a responsibility to put that data into a format that can be consumed by citizens.

This is true, they should be putting information out in a way that is usable and accessible. At the same time though, it’d be good if they just put all the raw data out and let anyone develop their own usable, accessible versions. It’d give government a head start in developing their own versions as they can see all the innovative uses of the raw data and take a cue from them.

Birmingham City Council’s web site is a great example of where it could help. A new council web site finally arrived late and over budget and was subject to a lot of criticism. Subsequently, a bunch of passionate (some would say crazy) brum folks made their own version by pulling the data from wherever they could.

How about if BCC had put their data out there and invited the brum community to do their worst? I have no doubt BCC would have a whole host of examples of good uses of that data. Examples that they could then adapt and build into the new site. Let’s call it data democracy, shall we?

Probably the best example of data democracy in action to date still has to be mySociety‘s TheyWorkForYou.com. Just imagine what those guys could do if they had all that data in a better format and even more to boot…. they’ve got plenty of ideas.

So, how about it Andrew; let’s have data democracy now and help us to help you engage with us.

Andrew Stott, the government’s Director of Digital Engagement will be attending the Talk About Local Unconference this Saturday to give a talk about the data.gov.uk developer preview.


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