UK Government data mash-up competition
July 5, 2008 3:56 PM   Subscribe

Co-design a public service in a UK Government mash-up competition that carries a £20,000 prize. The UK Government wants to hear your ideas for new products that could improve the way public information is communicated.

The Power of Information Taskforce is running a competition on the UK Government's behalf, and they have a £20,000 prize fund to develop the best ideas to the next level. You can see the type of thing they are are looking for on their examples page.

There have already been over 100 entries, from a parking fines map of the UK through to a rate my healthcare site.

The project is a small but significant step in the direction of creative collaboration between citizens and government in the UK.

Charles Leadbetter should be pleased. As he said "This conflict between the rising surge of mass collaboration and attempts to retain top down control will be one of the defining battles of our time, from Communist China, to Microsoft's battle with open source and the music industry's desperate rearguard action against the web."
posted by baggymp (15 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: I'm not totally clear on who is running which sites and such, but "The Power of Information Task Force was established by Cabinet Office Minister Tom Watson MP in March 2008." definitely makes this way too close to a self-link to be okay. -- cortex



 
Oh look, it's an FPP for spec work. Whee.
posted by optovox at 4:05 PM on July 5, 2008


We're utterly incompetent, at our lowest ebb, can you do our job for us? More money down the shitter from the same people who spent £500,000 on installing speakers on CCTV cameras so they could shout at people in the street for walking out of line. Show you a "better way?" The big door over there marked GTF.
posted by fire&wings at 4:11 PM on July 5, 2008


Well, in the UK surveillance cameras apparently solve any problem.

So how about putting a 24-hour a day surveillance camera in every MP's flat, manor, castle, or lodgment, so that they can easily communicate with the public whenever needed?
posted by orthogonality at 4:22 PM on July 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


fire&wings: "Show you a "better way?" The big door over there marked GTF."

If my Super Detector for Angrily Typo'd Acronyms (or SuperDATA) gets government approval, then angry, mistyped acronyms like fire&wings' will be a thing of the past.

It'll be for the good of society! and cashmoney
posted by Rhaomi at 4:59 PM on July 5, 2008


I'd (still) rather see open access to the data that we paid for, but that is still sold commercially (eg the postcode database). £20k is derisory when compared to the amount of creativity a US-style overhaul of Crown Copyright would unleash.
posted by Leon at 5:00 PM on July 5, 2008


Interesting that MySociety don't appear to be involved, given that they've led the way when it comes to clever online use of publicly available data and the like. Admittedly, FixMyStreet is given as an example of the sort of thing Show Us A Better Way are after, but not mentioning WriteToThem, They Work For You, and WhatDoTheyKnow seems odd, since I bet they inspired this competition, and since quite a few of the 100 entries linked could be made by building on/"mashing up" existing MySociety projects.
posted by jack_mo at 5:30 PM on July 5, 2008


angry, mistyped acronyms like fire&wings' will be a thing of the past.

GTF, not GTFO. Perhaps.
posted by jack_mo at 5:37 PM on July 5, 2008


Um, the acronym tag with a title attribute worked on preview, I swear. (I was wondering whether fire&wings meant Get Tae Fuck, not Get The Fuck Out, as I have a vague memory of him being Scottish.)
posted by jack_mo at 5:43 PM on July 5, 2008


The data seems to come in a wide variety of different licenses. The worst of these is from the NHS Choices website which asks users to:

Please use the registration form to register your interest in accessing the NHS Choices web services, whose use is subject to a contractual agreement (Service Level Agreement). Please provide as much detail as you can about your proposed application - all fields are mandatory. We will review your proposal and get back to you as soon as we can. Please note that your application will be subject to a quality and strategic assessment to ensure it is in line with the NHS Choices policy.

Because, of course, their data (which seems to consist of some articles on health and a way to search for health providers) is so very precious that all uses of it must be individually strategically assessed.
posted by xchmp at 6:45 PM on July 5, 2008


What is your idea's name?
Two-way television

A short description of your idea (in twenty words or less)
TV screens in public places that simultaneously broadcast information while recording movement data; citizens who want free TVs can opt to have one installed in their homes.

Describe your idea. How does it work and who does it help?
Face-recognition software has come a long way, but for the most part it usually works best when the target is facing the camera. Switching to simpler face-recognition software might also reduce server size and the cost of computer hardware.
Additionally those who order two-way televisions for their homes will receive a free entertainment system which gives them accurate data on traffic and events while giving in-depth detail on the driving forces behind transportation. Thus surges in traffic can be predicted and planned for even before they happen, and citizens can be advised to take alternative routes before any get crowded.

What information or services do you need? (eg, maps, statistics, etc.)
One way to find optimal locations for two-way televisions would be to compare the prices for setting up billboards, posters and advertising murals; wherever the competition is most high is where people are most inclined to look.
posted by Citizen Premier at 6:48 PM on July 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


You've been around here long enough to know that this is a self-link as you are apparently Tom Watson, the head of the Power of Information Taskforce. It would be better placed in Projects.
posted by cmonkey at 11:51 PM on July 5, 2008


But I'm glad you're encouraging the government to make data openly available in standard formats. Hopefully that will spread to other governments.
posted by cmonkey at 11:54 PM on July 5, 2008


I thought that the post was unique and might be of interest to members who were not aware of the initiative. And a discussion around collaboration and technology that makes life better for people seems appropriate for this community.

The project head is Power of Information Taskforce Chair Richard Allan. Tom Steinberg ensures that MySociety is also represented on the group, though of course, the whole intention is to open up government to a culture of collaboration that has traditionally been difficult for it to achieve.

This community has changed my thinking on issues affecting the day job. I value the people and their ideas a great deal. It must be tempting to move to the default position of cynicism when you know that a fellow community member is also and elected representative so I'd like to thank you for, in the main, resisting the urge.
posted by baggymp at 2:56 AM on July 6, 2008


I thought that the post was unique and might be of interest to members who were not aware of the initiative.

Oh, definitely of interest, and thanks for posting it baggymp.

Tom Steinberg ensures that MySociety is also represented on the group, though of course, the whole intention is to open up government to a culture of collaboration that has traditionally been difficult for it to achieve.

Ah, thanks for clearing that up - I was just a bit surprised when I saw the site that it wasn't actually a MySociety project.

It must be tempting to move to the default position of cynicism when you know that a fellow community member is also and elected representative so I'd like to thank you for, in the main, resisting the urge.

From my default position of cynicism, I'm almost tempted to argue that your position at the Cabinet Office makes this post unconfortably close to being a self-link!
posted by jack_mo at 4:31 AM on July 6, 2008


Citizen Premier, that's a great idea! We could also use the televisions in a positive way, to celebrate Britishness and our communities, and to show our dislike of something like anti-social behaviour. Perhaps we could all stop, once a day, and come together via the screens for just a minute or so. Fits in well with the proposed British Day and the new youth community service scheme proposed by Brown.
posted by alasdair at 6:46 AM on July 6, 2008


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