Country profile, June 2011
Key policy documentsConsulted key e-government policy documents.
- eGovernment Factsheet UK, pdf
- Open Data Will Underpin Big Society
- What is Wrong with Government 2.0?
- Publish Government Data
- The Big Society
- Open Data: an International Comparison of Strategies, pdf
- Urban Food and Farming Project
- Breaking Barriers Adult Literacy and Numeracy Research Group
- Uptake of Open Government Licence Continues to Grow
- ePSIplatform Topic Report: Local and regional PSI Re-use and Open Data Initiatives
- ePSIplatform Topic Report: Opening up Government Data, Making the Case
- ePSIplatform Topic Report: Simplifying PSI Re-use in the UK
- ePSIplatform Topic Report: Cultivating Ecologies of PSI Regulation in Europe
- They Work For You
- Petitions, Number 10
- Guardian Data Blog
- Local Government Group
ActorsE-government actors involved in the collaborative production.
Coverage in policy documentsCoverage of collaborative production in e-government policy documents.
Information to be provided by the Member State.
Definitionsof collaborative production used.
The Big Society: the Big Society is a Government agenda that seeks to shift power from politicians to people. It formed a key element of the Conservative 2010 election campaign and was the subject of the first major policy announcement of the new coalition government on 18 May 2010. The main themes are:
PrioritiesPriorities covered and/or stimulated. (Top-down collaboration or bottom-up collaborative production)
Policy cycleCollaborative production in the policy cycle (development, implementation, evaluation).
The process of opening up government data was begun under the previous government, and there have been a number of milestones along the way:
- January 2005: The full provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 come into force, creating a general right of access to information held by public authorities. Freedom of Information requests have since become an important part of journalism and civic activism, with the MPs expenses scandal probably the most high-profile FOI-related case.
- September 2009: data.gov.uk is launched by Gordon Brown and Sir Tim Berners-Lee, with the aim of encouraging the general public and web developers to re-use data the government holds.
- April 2010: After the "Free our Data" campaign by the Guardian newspaper, amongst others, the Ordnance Survey makes available limited map data for free re-use, as part of its OpenData programme.
- June 2010: The newly-formed Government releases the COINS database of central government expenditure. The coalition has also acted quickly to get other datasets into the public domain, notably central government workforce, special advisors and highly-paid civil servants.
- The TheyWorkForYou website lets UK residents find out what their MP, MSP or MLA is doing in their name, read debates, written answers, see what’s coming up in Parliament, and sign up for email alerts when there’s past or future activity on someone or something they’re interested in.
- Tools have also been created to make it easy for citizens to petition their representatives (e.g. the UK Prime Ministers’ Number10.gov, developed by mySociety). Number10.gov now has over 5 million unique email addresses (representing around 10% of the population).
ForeseenForeseen policy interventions and instruments.
Martin Bellamy, director of the office of the government chief information officer, announced the launch of Prototype versions of the Government Application Store — a central store of software applications that can be accessed by public sector organisations over the internet — will be available to a selection of public-sector bodies: http://www.zdnet.co.uk/news/networking/2010/02/02/g-cloud-app-store-trial-to-begin-this-week-40017999/
Legal provisionsWith regard to the implementation of Freedom of Information, PSI Re-use and correlation with collaborative e-government.
Public service domainsPublic service domains covered (based on 20 basic services).
The 12 services for citizens are as follows:
- Income taxes: declaration, notification of assessment
- Job search services by labor offices
- Social security benefits
- Personal documents: passport and driver’s license
- Car registration (new, used, imported cars)
- Application for building permission
- Declaration to the police (e.g. in case of theft)
- Public libraries (availability of catalogues, search tools)
- Certificates (birth and marriage): request and delivery
- Enrolment in higher education/university
- Announcement of moving (change of address)
- Health related services (interactive advice on the availability of services in different hospitals; appointments for hospitals
The 8 services for businesses are as follows:
- Social contributions for employees
- Corporate tax: declaration, notification
- VAT: declaration, notification
- Registration of a new company
- Submission of data to statistical offices
- Customs declarations
- Environment-related permits (incl. reporting)
- Public procurement
Many of the skills needed to create, access and use open data are not yet widespread in the voluntary sector. There is a cost to effectively creating and using this data, while sharing commercially sensitive data could reduce competitiveness. As open data becomes embedded in government, voluntary organisations which contract with government may be compelled to produce and share data as part of those contracts.
400 local authorities in the UK showed a low level of interest or perceptions of relevance regarding the re-use of data, as 25% failed to respond to such inquiries while 50% indicated that they had not yet prepared an Information Asset Register. However, despite the slow pace, the Uptake of the Open Government License by local authorities continues to grow.
Some examples of open data in action:
It is difficult to quantify the impact that open government data has had so far, particularly at this early stage. However, there are a number of examples of citizens and organisations using (and creating) public data to hold government to account and to create value for their communities.
- FixMyStreet: A mySociety website that allows citizens to report problems in their area (like potholes, graffiti and fly tipping) directly to the local council. The site keeps a log of all queries, so not only are they reported to the council, but other citizens can see where the issues in their area are.
- Where does my money go?: This site, run by the Open Knowledge Foundation shows how public money is spent, and informs debates about public spending in the UK. They have been at the forefront of efforts to gain access to the COINS database.
- Open Councils: OpenlyLocal have been tracking councils that release open data, and seeing how many are truly open. At the time of writing, only nine out of 434 councils are truly open (by the definition they are using), with another nine publishing open data. These councils include: Lichfield, Salford, Warwickshire, East Staffordshire and the Greater London Authority. These councils are also sharing apps made using the data: Warwickshire has gallery of applications, and so does London.
- Interactive Tube Maps: a very powerful example of how an open data feed, in this case live London Underground tube information, can create simple applications that capture the imagination. The live tube map was created by Matthew Somerville. (The site is currently out of action - here's a video of it working.)
- National Biodiversity Network: charities and statutory bodies involved in wildlife and biodiversity have come together to share the information they collect on particular species throughout the UK. Citizens can see what species are active in their local areas, and organisations can collaborate on action and campaigning.
- London Crime Mapping: Following Boris Johnson's election as Mayor of London in 2008, the Metropolitan Police launched an online map showing crime in London Boroughs and Wards.
- Subsidy Scope: this US-based project tracks government spending on ad tax subsidies for non-profit organisations. The site also includes data from federal bailouts
- The Guardian data blogs create the potential for improved analysis and visualization in which citizens can participate.