ODM Response to the Public Data Corporation consultation

Charging for Public Data Corporation information

1. How do you think Government should best balance its objectives around increasing access to data and providing more freely available data for re-use year on year within the constraints of affordability? Please provide evidence to support your answer where possible.

This question is framed incorrectly. For open data to be truly sustainable there has to be a shift away from the notion of affordability and access. Open Data is part of a transformation of how services are delivered within and by government and how government relates to people and business. What we should be moving to is the notion of Government as platform where the data that the government uses for its own purposes is also seamlessly available for reuse.

2. Are there particular datasets or information that you believe would create particular economic or social benefits if they were available free for use and re-use? Who would these benefit and how? Please provide evidence to support your answer where possible.

We see that there are a number of core ‘infrastructure’ datasets that have allowed systems to be developed within the UK. The majority being run by trading funds. Consolidating their charging position within the PDC will have a chilling effect not only on the direct creation of applications and services but on an underlying data ecosystem that will create social and economic value. It has impact on future technological developments where applications need to be aware of their relation to core data infrastructure. This is particularly important with the emerging development of the Internet of Things and pervasive technologies.
Whilst developing the Open Data Cities project in 2009 and DataGM – The Greater Manchester Datastore with Trafford Council it became apparent that local authority and community access to certain data such as Land Registry data was creating problems. Anecdotally it had been suggested that easy and open access to Land Registry data would help combat cross boundary housing benefit fraud and would of eliminated the MPs second home scandal.

3. What do you think the impacts of the three options would be for you and/or other groups outlined above? Please provide evidence to support your answer where possible.
The charging options outlined will all have impact on the development of open data services/applications and future technologies where open data is an enabler.
All three models are flawed in that they are trying to predict and extract value from an emergent field. They fail to take into account what is needed to create a sustainable, innovative and disruptive data ecosystem. Disruptive innovation in emerging fields needs to have a low barrier to entry and the creation of an ecosystem where ideas can be tested, fail and succeed with marginal cost.

4. A further variation of any of the options could be to encourage PDC and its constituent parts to make better use of the flexibility to develop commercial data products and services outside of their public task. What do you think the impacts of this might be?
By encouraging public organisations to develop services outside the public task has the potential to distort an emerging market and should be treated with caution. The knowledge that many public organisations hold in regard to their task is unique and could be encouraged as long as the underlying raw data resources are available to all.

5. Are there any alternative options that might balance Government’s objectives which are not covered here? Please provide details and evidence to support your response where possible.

5. There needs to be an appraisal of the wider value and impact of releasing public data. This impact should not just be seen as a simple transactional value but a broader impact on the engagement and wellbeing of society.

Licensing
 
1. To what extent do you agree that there should be greater consistency, clarity and simplicity in the licensing regime adopted by a PDC?
It is understood that having multiple licensing regimes can create confusion and hence hinder the development of interpretations, applications and services. The danger of ‘double licensing’ is real especially as products become more complex. The adoption of OGL should be seen as a default position for raw open public data. At the moment within public datastores such as DataGM there are numerous licensing options most with a potential to cause confusion and contaminate downstream data usage. This confusion has also been used as an excuse for not releasing data.

2. To what extent do you think each of the options set out would address those issues (or any others)? Please provide evidence to support your comments where possible.
The potential impact of different organisations within the PDC to define their own licenses to suit different uses of data usage presupposes that the data provider has an appreciation of the potential uses of the data. This may work in an environment where products are developed in one specific domain but when innovation is cross cutting the need for standardisation and clarity becomes clear. Whilst the third option of a single PDC licence with adapted schedules of use would seem easiest. The question fails to recognise that raw open public data should be free by default with exemptions being rigorously justified.

3. What do you think the advantages and disadvantages of each of the options would be? Please provide evidence to support your comments
Please see above

4. Will the benefits of changing the models from those in use across Government outweigh the impacts of taking out new or replacement licences?
Yes, as the current licensing regime is opaque and hinders innovation and innovation drives the economy.

Oversight

1. To what extent is the current regulatory environment appropriate to deliver the vision for a PDC?
You cant have a system of oversight which fails to engage users. It is necessary to have one robust and representative regulatory environment that has real powers to make PDC based organisations compliant. The representation should be a balance of suppliers and users of data.

2. Are there any additional oversight activities needed to deliver the vision for a PDC and if so what are they?
Apart from making sure that raw public data is made open and freely available, No

3. What would be an appropriate timescale for reviewing a PDC or its constituent parts public task(s)?
Six monthly initially then after the initiative becomes embedded less often

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