By Daniel Hunter

Finding new ways to use information held by the public sector will be examined in a new independent review jointly launched today (Monday) by Ministers at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Cabinet Office.

The comprehensive review, which was announced in the Open Data White Paper, will improve access to data and help promote economic growth by examining the market for public sector information.

At the end of the review, recommendations will be made to Ministers on how to widen access and consider new and innovative opportunities for open data. In particular, the review will look at the following areas:

- the current use of public sector information within government, the private sector and by the general public;
- the opportunities for innovation and developing new data services with public sector information;
- the constraints on developing new services with public sector information and the role that current funding models play;
- the impact of competitiveness on existing and new businesses entering the market, as well as the way in which organisations secure access to data; and
an audit of current and past studies, as well as taking stock of the current use and re-use of public sector information.

Stephan Shakespeare, Chair of the Data Strategy Board, has been appointed to lead the independent review. The review complements the work of the Data Strategy Board and will ensure that other projects are aligned to the review, avoiding unnecessary duplication of time and resource. Stephan will also work with the Open Data Institute, to build on their work into the economic benefits and business models for open data, and with other public and private sector advocates of open data.

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said:

“We strongly believe in the power of open data as a fuel for social and economic growth. But it is vital that we explore— as this review will do — the full potential of public sector information. We will see how we can improve access to this data and create opportunities for innovation, data-driven businesses and services that will benefit everyone.”

Matthew Hancock, Business Minister and sponsor of the Data Strategy Board, said:

“This independent review is a vital step in embedding a culture of openness and transparency with open data. It will distinguish those opportunities with the greatest potential to improve access to data and help stimulate economic growth.

“Above all we want everyone to benefit from open data — whether it’s taxpayers, businesses, the public sector or individuals — all working together to provide better public services and new revenue streams.”

Stephan Shakespeare, who will lead the review and is Chair of the Data Strategy Board, said:

“Technology is rapidly changing the way we use data and a number of opportunities are opening up, so it’s important that we have a comprehensive review to lay a good foundation for the future. I want to explore how we can get better data efficiency from the wealth of information out there and how it can work for businesses and the public sector alike.”

The review will look at the data from the Public Data Group which is made up of the different Trading Funds — Ordnance Survey, the Met Office, Land Registry and Companies House. It will also consider information from across the wider public sector.

The independent review’s recommendations will be considered in the context of value for money for the taxpayer and extracting value from the available data. The review is expected to report back in Spring 2013.

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