Here’s a letter I’ve just sent to my MP, Michael Fabricant about train times data and the new national address book.
Dear Michael Fabricant,
I’m writing to ask for your help with raising two issues around public data within Government.
The first is about the new national address book (background at http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/newsroom/1786564). It makes perfect sense to combine the two, reducing costs for Government and business and is probably long overdue, so that’s great.
I wonder if you could raise it with the Minister concerned that there is no mention of making the new register available as re-usable open data with the ability to create derived data. Francis Maude, Nigel Shadbolt and Tim Berners-Lee are doing an excellent job of trying to make the UK a world leader for open government data. It’d be a shame if this clever move was left out of that.
Secondly, I wanted to raise the issue of how National Rail Enquiries (NRE) and the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) are handling the data around train times. Their policies around licensing the data (information which is essentially public and of great use to train commuters like you and I) is stifling innovation in this area.
They have recently withdrawn the live departure boards web service and requiring anyone wanting to use the data to create useful services to the general public to sign up to disturbingly prohibitive terms. I won’t go into detail as it’s more clearly covered here: http://mbarclay.net/?p=951
I’d appreciate if you could raise the issue with the minister in charge and also with Francis Maude and others mentioned above. I for one would like to provide users of The Lichfield Blog with a live departure board and updates on line closures (like the one we have today) but this step makes that impossible and denies residents a very useful service.