Open data continues to spread around the world – here's a great recent summary of what's happening where. But simply making government data available is no longer enough: now we need to move on to the far trickier job of doing something with it.
That's essentially what the UK's Open Data Institute hopes to encourage. As I quoted back in May:
The vision is to establish the Open Data Institute (ODI) as a world-leading centre to innovate, exploit and research the opportunities for the UK created by the Government's Open Data policy.
Not only world-leading, the ODI is the first of its kind anywhere in the world and as such will become the ‘go to' venue for those countries, companies, institutions and other bodies seeking to understand Open Data, overcome the challenges of publishing Open Data, make commercial gain from Open Data and employ the best technologies to ensure Open Data is exploited in the best possible way.
The good news is that things are progressing, and ODI has filled some key posts:
The Open Data Institute (ODI) has named AMEE founder, Gavin Starks as its new CEO. The role of Technical Director is being taken by Jeni Tennison, currently the technical architect of legislation.gov.uk for The Stationery Office (TSO) and The National Archives (TNA).
Here are their respective bios:
Gavin Starks has a unique background in business, technology, science and media. In 2006, he created AMEE to organise the world's energy and environmental data, standards and calculations in to a simple web-service. As well as AMEE, Gavin has helped create many innovative and successful start-ups in the Shoreditch area over the past decade-working with organisations including the UK Government, Google, and Unicef.
Jeni Tennison is one of the country's foremost developers in open data and web technologies, having pioneered the use of open data APIs within the public sector through legislation.gov.uk. She is known internationally for her work with both XML and Linked Data, and is a member of the W3C's Technical Architecture Group.
These look good choices to me: both are widely respected in the tech communities, and so will help bring some real rigour to the ODI – something that is badly needed if it is deliver meaningful results, and not just turn into a PR exercise for the UK government's stated intentions on opening things up.
The ODI has also confirmed today that its new headquarters will be at 65 Clifton Street in Shoreditch, at the heart of London's technology community. The headquarters will open later in the year with a series of events and activities.
I can't wait.