Footage of 'Bigger + more open = better?' event now available to view

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in News

On 16 October 2013, The Royal Statistical Society and the Institute for Government held an event titled 'Bigger + more open = better? How can the data revolution make government more effective?'. John Pullinger, president of the Royal Statistical Society and director general of Information Services at the House of Commons, chaired the discussion on the use of big data in government.

Panellists included: Jeni Tennison, technical director, Open Data Institute; Paul Maltby, director of open data and government innovation at the Cabinet Office; Fran Bennett, chief executive, Mastodon C (a London-based start-up which helps build open data systems); Julian McCrae, deputy director, Institute for Government.

John Pullinger (1m57s) began by observing that the issue of data has become central to discussions about economic growth and effective policymaking. However, he also warned that open data is not necessarily a positive thing. Data, he said, ‘can be captured by the bad guys as well as turned into an opportunity by the good guys.’

Jeni Tennison (4m03s) spoke of the challenges in utilising open data for public good and gave an example of a recent project she worked on which was hindered by difficulties in ‘mashing up’ private sector data with Government data. She proposed that the government should be involved in collaborative data efforts enabling shared data assets that can benefit all.

Paul Maltby (9m36s) spoke of building on the 10,000 datasets already available through the data.gov.uk website and releasing a further 4,000 datasets. In ten years’ time, he said, policy makers will need a different skillset and a different mindset. The big aim for government was to move to a default position of open data.

Fran Bennett (18m10), chief executive Mastodon C, a London-based start-up which helps build open data systems, said that policy at the moment is not driven by data. She also pointed out that there is currently very little guidance for practitioners as to how data might be used. ‘The commercial sector is the complete wild west in the way it collects and uses data,’ she commented.

Julian McCrae (24m23) of the Institute for Government explained the importance of presenting datain a way that people can understand. He also said that big data was helping to enable transparency in government - important in improving performance, particularly in poor contracting, for example.

In the discussion afterwards (33m23), practical aspects of open data were discussed; how to develop capacity for releasing open data, how it should be released, privacy issues, incentives for releasing data and how that data might be used in arguments centred around political ideology or emotive topics.

A storify compiling tweets made throughout the event, is available to view here.

Big Data John Pullinger Official Statistics Open Data

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