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Sir Tim Berners-Lee tells governments to follow UK open data strategy

The inventor of the world wide web says it will help tackle poverty and reduce corruption

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Sir Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the world wide web, today called on governments around the world to open up their data to the public in the same way that the UK is. 

The internet pioneer believes that releasing publicly held data to the public and software developers will help fight poverty, boost innovation, empower citizens and reduce corruption.  

Speaking at the Open Government Partnership Summit in London, Berners-Lee revealed a report called the Open Data Barometer, which shows that the UK has the most advanced open data policy.

The report, a joint project between the World Wide Web Foundation and Open Data Institute, is an investigation into how many countries are allowing open data policies.

“The Open Data Barometer is an important part of the puzzle and a good snapshot of where we are now,” claimed Berners-Lee. “What’s been brilliant in the UK is we got a project in the Cabinet Office to put a lot of data online quickly.”

However, Berners-Lee said the UK is “only 20 percent of the way there” when it comes to open data, adding that the nation has some serious challenges ahead. “There’s a lot to do but there’s a massive agenda,” he said, pointing out that there’s no open data that allows you to turn a postcode or address into a latitude and a longitude.

In the report, the US, Sweden, New Zealand, Denmark and Norway came immediately after the UK, out of the 77 countries surveyed.

Berners-Lee said only one in 10 of the countries that promised to open up data has actually delivered. More than half (55 per cent) of the countries included on the report have formal open data policies in place, but many of these governments will not release certain datasets, including company registers and land registers that could provide valuable information to the public and mapping data that could be used by developers behind apps like Citymapper

Also speaking at the Open Government Partnership Summit today, Prime Minister David Cameron called upon businesses to adopt open data practices, adding that they would be subjected to new rules around publishing of company ownership data.


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