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Open data - let's have both the raw and and cooked

UKAuthority.com - The public sector IT management association Socitm has added its voice to calls for public bodies to publish data in ways that are understandable to the general public.

In a response to this month's report on transparency by the Commons Public Accounts Committee, Socitm says that from the outset of the transparency agenda it has been an advocate for openness. "However, we have also expressed concerns about the confusion between publishing raw data and publishing information in more meaningful and easily understandable formats.

"Raw data and linked data is essential for common data sets to be linked and more intelligent comparisons to be made. It is also the source of the ambitions to allow companies to use government data to develop new applications.

"Raw data is, however, pretty meaningless to the public, as noted by the committee. Some public authorities have overcome this by publishing data in more typical 'document' formats such as PDFs. These look much more presentable, but unfortunately suffer form the inbuilt difficulty to reuse the data.

"Socitm has been clear therefore that public authorities need to publish information in simple and clear formats for the public, as well as publishing raw linked data for reuse by developers and entrepreneurs. We are delighted therefore that the Public Accounts Committee has come to the same conclusion.