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Tim Berners-Lee ­nveils Government Data Project

By BBC News

January 28, 2010

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Sir Tim Berners-Lee has unveiled a new venture for the U.K. government, a Web site at http://data.gov.uk designed to provide the public with better access to official data, ranging from traffic statistics to crime figures, for both private and commercial use. The objective is to inspire services that make use of the data in new ways. Already, developers have built a site that displays the location of schools according to the rating assigned to them by the education watchdog Ofsted.

Berners-Lee says government data is an untapped resource that has already been paid for, and when it just sits in an office it is wasted. A beta version of the site has been running since September, and more than 2,400 developers have registered to test the site and provide feedback. So far, 10 applications have been developed using the data feeds, including a free service called PlanningAlerts that searches local authority Web sites for planning applications and automatically emails details of any applications in an area to service subscribers. Another service, FillThatHole, enables citizens to report potholes and road hazards.

The site currently contains 2,500 data sets, but Berners-Lee and co-developer Nigel Shadbolt, a Southampton University professor, hope the number of data sets will continue to grow. Shadbolt is looking to extend the project to cover local government information.

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