Osborne announces ‘open data’ initiative

Osborne announces ‘open data’ initiative

NHS data will be a key area of transparency

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Chancellor George Osborne announced on Tuesday a major push to open up data, so that new applications can be created from public information.

He delivered the news in his Autumn Statement, which also announced initiatives to help increase investment in start-ups and enable small and medium-sized businesses to grow and win more public sector contracts.

The government said the move to open up data will aid economic growth, transport and healthcare.

More open data will boost investment in medical research, by enabling healthcare to be better tracked across the NHS, for example.

Following the chancellor’s announcement, health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “Patients will benefit directly from our efforts to make health data transparent and easy to use by the medical research community. This will fuel advances in treatment, as well as positioning this country as a centre of excellence for research.

“We will also encourage information providers to use this data we open up to the public, so they can offer patients insights into the quality of care on offer and drive improvements in the quality of science."

Meanwhile, the release of better data on transport, health, weather and house prices near Tech City in London – and other technology clusters – will be aimed at encouraging investment in these areas. The data will also allow companies to develop relevant apps to sell.

The government also plans to make available real-time information on roads, trains and buses nationally, by April 2012. Developers would be able to use this data to create apps to link into satellite navigation devices, among other things.

All the data will be managed by a new £10 million body, the Open Data Institute, led by prominent technology entrepreneurs including Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

When it came to power last year, the coalition government made a number of open data announcements including the disclosure of the salaries of public sector officials.

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