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London unveils digital datastore

More than 200 data sets detailing life in London are to be put online by the capital's governing body.

Information about planning decisions, crime rates, abandoned vehicles, house prices, road accidents and many other metrics will form the London datastore.

The Greater London Authority said the online data warehouse will officially open on 29 January.

Boris Johnson, London Mayor, said releasing the data would make the GLA more open and accountable.

"I firmly believe that access to information should not just be the preserve of institutions and a limited elite," said Mr Johnson in a statement.

"Data belongs to the people - particularly that held by the public sector - and getting hold of it should not involve a complex routine of jumping through a series of ever decreasing hoops," he said.

The data is likely to prove attractive to the growing cadre of web developers and programmers keen to put it to use.

Those who come up with the most innovative ways to harness the data could get a substantial grant to help them bring their idea to life.

4iP, Channel 4's Innovation for the Public Fund, said it would back the best ideas with a £200,000 cash pot.

The decision to set up the datastore follows a similar move by central government to start releasing some official datasets to programmers and developers.

The site will act as a repository for centrally held information and was unveiled in November 2009. It will go fully live in April 2010.

Similarly, many developers have been badgering local authorities to release the data they hold so they can put it to public use. Sites such as Openly Local and Mash The State have been campaigning for more access to data.

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