Laptop Burns

Recent initiatives have dramatically increased the range of previously “closed” data being made “open” by the government, including data sets on travel, weather and healthcare. This data can then be used by anyone to create great new products, business opportunities and community services.

Although clearly “a good thing” in theory, in practice Open Data is more likely to increase the digital divide and socially inequality than it is to reduce it, unless we approach the subject critically.

There is a clear and compelling case that information produced at public expense should be made open and freely available to benefit the public. However simply declaring data sets to be open does not, in itself, make it of any practical use to the public.

When released in its raw form, data is not open to the public in any meaningful sense. It is only open to a small elite of…

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