Monthly Archives: September 2008

Local Government Web 2.0

NCC has published a useful article on Web 2.0 in local government.

This points to some interesting reference sites and then offers a set of guidance for local government on using Web 2.0 technologies.

The Task Force recognises that much of the most interesting data for citizens is held by local rather than central government.  We are looking at some of the policy issues around a power of information approach in local government and will share this via the blog soon.

Richard Allan, Task Force Chair

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Last Chance to Show Us a Better Way

The Task Force has been running a competition called ‘Show Us A Better Way’ to generate ideas for good uses of public data.

Over 400 ideas have already been submitted covering many public services and personal interests.  They range from simple outlines of possible applications to more fully worked up prototypes.

The competition closes on Tuesday 30th September so it’s your last chance to submit an entry.

There’s a very quick and easy process for doing this on the ShowUsABetterWay website and all ideas are welcome.

The Task Force will be passing all the submissions on to relevant people in Government so none of your thinking will be wasted, even if you don’t make it as a competition winner.

We will post up more information on the competition judging process next week.

Richard Allan, Task Force Chair

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National Statistics Boundaries

The new Metropolitan Police maps are based on areas that are described in the press release as:

Crime mapping areas are based on pre-defined (‘sub ward’) areas consisting of an average of 633 households. There are 4,765 ‘sub wards in London.

These ‘sub-wards’ are in fact Super Output Areas (SOAs) which have been defined by National Statistics for applications based on neighbourhood statistics.  More precisely, the maps use the (catchily named) Lower Layer Super Output Areas, or LSOAs.

National Statistics very helpfully make boundary data for these areas freely available on their website, and will also send them to you on a CD-ROM for free if you prefer.

This is all good stuff… except that if you want to add your own data to existing sets based on these boundaries, you really need a postcode to SOA lookup table.  And this is apparently not free but can only be done if you have access to commercial packages such as the Ordnance Survey’s Code-point.

If anyone knows of a free postcode-SOA lookup file then please let us know as this would be really helpful for data-mashers.  If indeed a free version of this does not exist as yet then this is a priority dataset for us to try to make available.

Richard Allan, Task Force Chair

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London Crime Mapping Live

We saw the official launch of the Metropolitan crime mapping service this week after a few weeks of beta presence online.

The FAQ page covers the issue of data protection that we discussed on this blog a while back. The relevant Q+As are:

Has the Information Commissioners Office been consulted in respect of the MPS approach?

Yes. The MPS has consulted fully with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) and the ICO is satisfied that the MPS has considered the data protection issues in crime mapping and that there are sufficient safeguards in terms of protecting the identity of victims of crime in relation to burglary, robbery and vehicle crime. The MPS will continue to seek advice from the ICO as the site continues to be developed.

In the USA crimes are published at street level and to a “point of occurrence”. Why can’t the MPS maps do the same?

In the UK the MPS is bound by the Data Protection Act and Human Rights Act. The MPS is not allowed to publish data that may inadvertently identify a living individual with that data; to do so would be in direct contravention of these Acts. These acts ensure that individuals and victims physical safety and emotional well-being are protected. The MPS has worked closely with the Information Commissioners Office to ensure full compliance with legislation governing which and in what form crimes can be released.

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A Collection of Government RSS Feeds

Blogger Informationoverlord has helpfully compiled a list of RSS feeds from UK Government sources that he has put together from patient research.

For those interested in international comparisons he has carried out a similar exercise for the German government and is looking for help doing this for other countries.

Richard Allan, Task Force Chair

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