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David Farrar


matthew taylor

The really exicting potential of more open access to data is that by revealing data including the costs and outcomes of programmes, it could enable a much wider audience to offer to do better than current providers. I would like to see 'continuous open door contestability' whereby anyone who thinks they can do better than current public programmes for the same or less cost, and is willing to be genuinely paid by results, has an opportunity to bid for work. We desparately need more innovation in the public sector. The greatest potential of open access to more data is making innovation easier.


Hi, Tom.

Weird that I should bump into you today. I don't be believe in coincidence.

Have you heard of the TALK>>> project (DCLG sponsored -run by Manchester uni)? I think you'll find you have some similar aims. Sorry I can't guess the URL!

Charles Lowe

Hi Tom,

Just in case you are not already talking to her, Ellie Stoneley at UK Villages fits your criteria well and always has a novel perspective to offer.

Ian Brown

Steve Coast and the OpenStreetMap posse:

Julian Todd

You said "anyone". Go speak to MI5, and find out what the deal is with their terrorist threat levels. Let's just suppose that this department isn't just about political scare-mongering, presenting irrefutable lies, and covering up failure with secrecy, and it has something positive to do in relation to public safety.

This MI5 (or the police, environment agency, or atomic energy authority for that matter) might have a position on what amounts to events where the very timely dissemination of public public sector information could save a lot of lives. For example, which direction the radio-active dust-cloud which they have just produced is heading so we can get out of the way. The issue might also relate to the story of the 2004 Tsumani, where everyone with mobile phones and friends closer to the event who could phone ahead got away without harm.

What I am saying is that timely, geographically scoped life-saving knowledge must go out on precisely the same information infrastructure (software, alerts, humans being able to work the interface) as the standard traffic.

An unbelievably souped up planning alert system working in real-time could have responded to the foot-and-mouth outbreak more swiftly. A freed version of the O.S. Maps which people interfaced with frequently could underly sophisticated applications which they'd know how to use in an emergency. A latent network of pledge-bank volunteers could mobilize a form of civil defence.

If you look for them you should find some serious people in the state (possibly the military state) who are aware of these issues and can form a case that trumps almost all profit margin business cases that the interests vested in closed data dare to spin.

A similar thing happened in the US in the 1950s with their physical infrastructure. The military decided that the roads weren't good enough to mobilize their troop movements, and got the government to pay for the shiny new interstate road network to be built.

At least that's the excuse. The SecDef did happen to be from General Motors, and this project was later seen as one plank of the huge social engineering project to move people off the public transit and into their cars and suburbs. But the story still sticks. There are good reasons outside of the business case for why we need a slick public sector information infrastructure.

Kevin Marks

Talk to my father, who has done loads of research into education using public data:


Kathryn Corrick

Hi Tom,
Just catching up with the fact you're doing this.
I'm sure this is way too late to say but just in case... Might be worth talking to MT Rainey who is in the process of giving birth to Horses Mouth - http://www.horsesmouth.co.uk, a social/mentoring network. Contact me if you want an intro.

I'm sure Dan McQuillan over at Amnesty is on your list already, but if not, may be it should as they've been building some really interesting things over the last year. As have Oxfam and Greenpeace.



Four years ago HM Revenue and Customs sponsored a web site called " Public Sector Benchmarking Service ". This had international membership, loads of useful info. , e-mail lists, group discussions and all the rest. It is now defunct, dead , a victim of budgets.

See link


People tried to fight for it but there was no central willingness to keep it alive. The Cabinet Office does not really seem to understand information, or user groups. They prefer initiatives, announcements and procurements ( as they may generate column inches and articles ).

The gentleman who ran the PSBS and his people may well be willing to speak. Let me know.


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