Smart cities rely on data, and if the value of local data is to be maximised it needs to be made available. But how accessible is local data in the UK at the moment?
Nesta, an independent charity that works to increase the innovation capacity of the UK, recently developed a prototype map to highlight the UK’s local open data ecosystem.
The map scores local authorities based on how available their data is across multiple sources, and how engaged they are with sharing their data. It shows that although there are pockets of good practice, much more could be done.
In a blog post introducing its work on the prototype map, Nesta said that Leeds Data Mill, London Datastore and Open Data Sheffield are three examples of great practice in the publication of open data at a local level.
This regional activity is also characterised not just by high-quality data publication, but also by pulling together through hack days, challenges and meet-ups [of] a community interested in the power of open data. This creates an ecosystem of publishers and re-users at a local level, the organisation said.
Other ways for local authorities to make their open data available include Data.gov.uk, which has 1,449 datasets published by local authorities, and the Open Data Communities website, which hosts 193 ‘linked open data’ datasets.
Local authorities can also register their open data in the Local Government Association’s Open Data Inventory Service and take it through the Open Data Institute’s data certification process.
Reflecting on the initial findings illustrated on the prototype map, Nesta said that it highlights some interesting patterns, such as an urban/rural split — with greater open data availability in urban areas and cities compared to rural local authorities.
The map currently only covers England, but Nesta plans to extend it across the country. Its aim is to show where the data publication hotspots are, the quality and breadth of the publication, as well as how it is associated with broader data activity — such as local open data businesses, meet-ups and ODI nodes.