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Berners-Lee launches public-data mashup site

Data.gov.uk offers access to public data from across government, allowing developers and businesses to create mashups
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Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor on

Computing luminaries Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Nigel Shadbolt have joined forces with the government to launch a website making public data available for reuse.

Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web, joined Digital Britain minister Stephen Timms and Professor Nigel Shadbolt of the University of Southampton on Thursday to launch the public beta for data.gov.uk.

"Making public data available for reuse is about increasing accountability and transparency and letting people create new, innovative ways of using it," Berners-Lee said in a statement.

"Government data should be a public resource. By releasing it, we can unlock new ideas for delivering public services, help communities and society work better, and let talented entrepreneurs and engineers create new businesses and services."

The website will make over 2,500 datasets from across government available for developers and businesses to create mashups, software that combines data from two or more sources to create web applications.

The datasets will be made available under an open licence, which allows the data to be reused by anyone.

The datasets have been previewed by 2,400 developers since 30 September, when the data was made available in a private beta. The developers have created applications including: a video that shows traffic flows and congestion on the motorway network over the past decade; a schools finder website that allows parents to search for schools by location and Ofsted report; and a postcode newspaper that details the different public services within a given postcode.

Berners-Lee and Shadbolt were appointed by the prime minister on 10 June, 2009 to open up the government data. Berners-Lee wrote a paper in June 2009 recommending that raw data be made available for public use.

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