The London Datastore: potential problems?

Jeremy Phillips

The Guardian reports that the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is today launching the London Datastore, a website hosting hundreds of sets of data, including previously unreleased information, about the capital, as part of a new scheme intended to encourage people to create “mashups” of data to boost the city’s transparency and accountability.

The London Datastore will be fully open from 29 January. The UK government is reportedly working on a similar site, data.gov.uk, which is also expected to be unveiled this month under the auspices of Tim Berners-Lee. Says the article:

Johnson has been a strong advocate of open data, having campaigned in 2008 on the promise that he would introduce crime maps, despite misgivings of some senior police officers. The Metropolitan Police did however quickly implement crime mapping in London, following the lead that had already been set by a number of other police forces around the country.

In a statement, Johnson said: “… 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 datasets that will be available include attainment, pupil number and schools data; fire incidents, ambulance rates, crime rates; carbon emissions, floorspace, vacant commercial offices, industrial stock data, abandoned vehicles, recycling rates, waste data, waste re-use centres, fly tipping rates, alcohol indicators, abortion rates, hospital waiting lists and admissions, excess winter deaths – and many dozens more.

Datonomy looks forward to learning about the London Datastore’s data protection policy, particularly with respect to any data which is generated by bodies over which London’s governance has no immediate and direct control.

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