Survey urges councils to open up data

Local councils have been told to open up the vast resources of information they hold about living, working and recreational environments.

The Better Connected survey of local government websites on local e-government states: "to get a permissive copyright policy on your website, publish your data in a way that computers can read easily, don't charge for your data and respond positively to people who ask you for basic data sets".

The message is a reminder of councils' pivotal place in the three-year campaign to Free Our Data. Local authorities' databases contain large amounts of information that may be of interest to data-mashers and other re-users.

Different authorities vary widely in their attitudes to making the data available. Unlike central government bodies, councils own the intellectual property in the data they produce.

Several authorities have begun to treat datasets as a revenue-generating asset - even though they will have been collected and curated with taxpayers'money. Islington council, for instance, now demands payment for downloads of its planning policy map.

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