London kickstarts an Open Data revolution

London kickstarts an Open Data revolution

London bus by e01’s web and software developers got a major boost today – one that will see them able to create all sorts of exciting apps to improve life in the UK’s capital.

London Mayor Boris Johnson today announced the launch of a scheme to make the capital Britain’s first ‘Open Data’ city. The London Datastore will make available for the first time a wide range of data about the city. The data will be open for all to use for free in Google Docs format.

Data to be opened up includes crime rates, planning decisions, road traffic accidents, house prices and much more. This is an almighty gift to developers who have long bemoaned the way data about public life is kept under lock and key. The full list of datasets available at launch on 29 January 2010 can be found here.

The data will allow all sorts of new apps to be created. Imagine an app that plots your route home via the statistically safest areas, for example. Indeed, to kickstart innovation based on the data Channel 4’s VC arm 4iP is offering up to £200,000 in total to two companies or individuals with an outstanding idea for a product or application that uses information from the Datastore.

The announcement follows a recent central government move to open up the UK’s mapping and post code data without charge for the first time.

The Open Data movement

The Open Data movement began to come to prominence last year. San Francisco opened up its data with the DataSF project and the US government opened up some centrally held data with, Many other cities across the US and Canada have made moves towards opening up.

Manchester snapping at London’s heels

London is the first UK city to achieve truly open data but a northern upstart is snapping at its heels. Drew Hemment and Julian Tait of FuturEverything are pushing to open up Manchester’s public data.

Julian tells me that the Manchester approach is a little different to London’s. “We are looking at creating an openData ecology where city wide datasets are opened up benefiting the dev community and the citizens of Manchester alike by encouraging developers to create novel and innovative applications to enable people to make informed choices”.

The Manchester team is currently bidding for funding for their project and it will be developed over the next 18 months.

[Image Credit: e01]

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