Shakespeare Review recommends plan for opening up government data

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Stephan Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Review, an independent report commissioned by the UK government on next steps regarding the opening up of public sector data, was published last week.
Stephan Shakespeare, CEO of pollsters YouGov and chair of the Data Strategy Board, was invited in October 2012 to lead a review of public sector information (PSI) and explore the growth opportunities of information held by the public sector.
The research concludes that open data has the potential to deliver nearly £2 billion to the UK economy in the short-term, with a further £6-7 billion further down the line.
Key recommendations include the production of a National Data Strategy and the formation of a single body with enough clout to drive its implementation. It also recommends using a ‘twin-track’ data release schedule, where datasets are released quickly, followed by ‘Core Reference Data’, published later but to a higher standard.
‘We welcome the Shakespeare review in taking the discussion forward about open data,’ said Hetan Shah, executive director of the RSS. ‘This government has started off very well in taking open data forward, but there is a risk that the agenda will stall unless continued political will is applied.’
One of the key recommendations of the review points to a number of capability and skills issues.  It identified a skills gap when it comes to data science and mentioned the RSS’s getstats campaign as a key initiative promoting statistical literacy.  The review’s findings also reinforce the Society’s statistical education agenda, stating:  ‘At school age, all students should have a basic understanding of where data comes from and how it is used to solve problems’ (p40).
Recent research conducted for the RSS has also indicated that the government will need to build public trust in open data. ‘Our recent survey with Ipsos MORI shows that the public lacks confidence in the government holding their data,’ Hetan Shah continued. ‘Much work remains to be done to think through privacy issues and reassure the public, in order to gain the potential economic and social benefits that open data holds out.’
The Guardian will be hosting a webchat with an expert panel discussing practical ways forward regarding the open data agenda on Friday 24 May, 12-2pm.

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