Boris Johnson Launching Online Tools for London To Facilitate Open and Transparent Governance

By: Information Daily Staff Writer
Published: Thursday, January 7, 2010 - 10:29 GMT Jump to Comments

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson today (Jan 7) fired the starting gun on an information revolution in the capital as he announced that City Hall is to release online, for the first time, huge realms of previously unavailable data for everyone to see and use free of charge. The information will be made available through the new ‘London Datastore’ website and is part of the Mayor’s ongoing campaign to boost transparency and accountability in the capital.

Making the announcement the Mayor was joined by President Barack Obama’s Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and Linda Cureton, Chief Information Officer, NASA during a rare live web link up with the world’s largest electronics show, CES, in Las Vegas. The Datastore will contain over 200 different sets of information and will be fully open for business on January 29th.

Like the hugely successful ‘Apps for Democracy’ project in the United States this new website, the first of its kind in the UK, will give London’s software developers the chance to exploit, for free, the commercial value of the data and use it to create applications that will make life easier for everyone in the capital.

The Mayor also welcomed the announcement from Channel 4's 4iP fund that up to £200,000 would be made available to develop the most innovative ideas using data from the Datastore and other public data sets.

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, said:

“The superb new London ‘Datastore’ will unleash valuable facts and figures that been languishing for far too long in the deepest recesses of City Hall. I firmly believe that access to information should not just be the preserve of institutions and a limited elite. 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.

“The US has led the way on this idea of setting their data free for anyone - students, campaigners, software developers – to use. Now it’s time for Britain to get up to speed and I want London, as the greatest city in the UK, to be at the forefront of this revolution, that will not only increase democracy, but also provide a potential money-spinner for the city’s hugely important software development sector.”

Aneesh Chopra, U.S. Federal Chief Technology Officer said:
“We applaud City Hall's bold advance into the exciting frontier of open government. Based on our experience with data.gov and other open government initiatives, I am certain that the London Datastore will foster greater trust in government among your citizens, stimulate excellence in public sector performance, and motivate British software innovators to develop programs that will add immensely to the value of government data sets.”

Professor Jonathan Raper, Chair of CES Government London:
“The GLA deserve a great deal of credit for the leadership they are showing in opening up much of the data they hold to the public. London has a strong developer community which will be able to mash up the data released by the GLA to provide new ways to monitor the performance of London's government and visualise the way a range of services are running.

“Opening the London Datastore is a really significant move that can increase public accountability, create jobs in new service businesses and draw new investment into the data that will make up a key part of our 21st century infrastructure."

A prototype of the London Datastore is accessible from today at http://dataweb1.london.gov.uk/datastore The full service will be available from January 29th

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