The potential for permanently unlocking public service information…

03Feb11

Freedom of Information has enabled access to information.

But sometimes, there are still issues with making this information accessible to all in usable formats, whilst still avoiding charging or licensing issues.

It’s nice to see a government-encouraged website trying to change things; the Public Sector Information Unlocking Service, although the regulator for the re-use of public sector information, is trying to encourage the copying and re-mixing of data by allowing users to essentially make mini-petitions for information.

They ask you for the problem, your ideal solution and what you will do with the information. Requests are stored by data (under each month) and adding your name and e-mail address allows you to ‘support’ a request, giving it more prominence and a greater chance of getting noticed.

It’s a good idea with potential, but at the moment, the information asked for is a bit vague and confusing (a lot of people get confused when asked for ‘the problem’, and whether or not this with regards to why the information couldn’t be easily accessed or why they are asking for the information), and it only allows access to information that is accessible under the Freedom of Information Act.

Alongside this, it seems that, for a long time, none of the requests have gained any supporters, and despite requests dating back to 2008 it seems as though the whole thing hasn’t really caught any momentum.

It is something to keep an eye on forever, and something that could make the utilisation of Freedom of Information and access to open data a whole lot easier.

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