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Public Data should be standardised so that the person on the street can use it

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One of the key points that we are trying to put forward on this blog, is that we are big supporters of better access to public data. At the recent Local Government Camp held at Fazeley Studios, Nick had a chance to talk to Tim Coleman who is the Communications Officer of the Coventry Partnership. It was very refreshing to hear, that someone who works with all this public data on a daily basis, is just as keen as we are to release it to the public.

“A lot of the challenges for local authorities at the moment are about, how to standardise this data, so that the person on the street can use it for an essay they writing or a big organisation can put in a funding bid. And it has to flexible enough to apply on all those levels”

At the moment, not all local authorities are as keen on this and one of the concerns is that different authorities will drive different standards. In order to make use of this data on larger scale, it has to be in a standard format that allow it to be flexible enough to be transferred and used across different platforms.

Tim admits that it is not the easiest task in the world to get everyone to agree on the same standard. However, he is fairly confident that at least in the Midlands, there is a good chance that the LSP’s will make some headway on this front.

First of all, the important thing is that this data is released in a web ready format from the get go. Not in some proprietary format that then has to be modelled into the web later on. Once the data is on the web, it’s in a format that people can actually use. Doing this will inevitably be the easiest and most sustainable option. Tim is certain that through conferences and demonstrations, this will prove to be the best way forward.

“I think that if you demonstrate a system that works, that provides a line of least resistance for everybody else, ultimately that’s the one people would go for”. (Let’s hope he’s right)

The partnership is a single body that brings together public and private sectors to collaborately improve the standard of the city. This means they deal with a lot of data and Tim is not shy to admit that, how the data is handled is one of the keys to a successful partnership.

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