Freesteel Blog » What are the 20 most socially useful datasets?

What are the 20 most socially useful datasets?

Thursday, October 8th, 2009 at 6:04 pm Written by:

Over at the Conservative Party Conference, the following promises were made:

  • Use open source software as much as possible
  • Publish on a website details of all government spending over £25,000.
  • Allow the public to comment on all legislation before it is debated in depth by MPs and peers.
  • Publish online 20 of the most socially useful government datasets online within 12 months of a General Election.
  • All government contacts over £10,000 being tendered by the government would also be online.
  • We need fewer mega-projects; a rigid insistence on open standards and inter-operability; a level playing field for open source software and for smaller suppliers.

This is excellent news. I wonder when they came to these policies, and why the silly buggers didn’t turn up to vote on the Government Spending (Website) Bill two years ago?

I’m also kind of interested in the “20 most socially useful government datasets within 12 months”, because that is a hard promise.

But what are those 20 socially useful datasets?

We could wait around and let them produce their own list, which will miss important data sets like the Postcode Address File (which I notice a former government minister has now written to the relevant authorities about)…

Or we could make up the list ourselves.

I was agitating for this, but was then pointed to this list on the Office of Public Sector Information:

It looks pretty comprehensive. Why is there not much publicity?

Wouldn’t it be a good thing if the 800 people who have so far signed Number 10 petition:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Encourage the Royal Mail to offer a free postcode database to non-profit and community websites

got over there and voted on it?


Nope. No one is noticing. I am just a lone soldier out here who’s too dumb to understand the party political issues that come about with pointing at opposition party policies, and saying: “YES… LET’S HAVE THAT.”


  • 1. Sym replies at 9th October 2009, 8:38 am :

    Two alternate (and dare I say, more likely than people ignoring you) theories as to why no one has signed up is

    1) On the over 100 email long thread on the mySociety public mailing list, no one has linked to this, whereas they have linked to the petition.

    2) When trying to sign, I get the following:

    This service is currently unavailable.

    We apologise but the service you are requesting is currently unavailable.
    Please try again later.

    It might be a good idea to link to the OPSI site prominently on one of your web sites, rather than half way down a blog post on a blog that according to you no one reads?

    Just an idea.

  • 2. Gareth Rees replies at 9th October 2009, 2:41 pm :

    It’s a good question: how were we supposed to find out about this site?

  • 3. Julian replies at 9th October 2009, 9:30 pm :

    Maybe some influential blogs are supposed to do their duty and blog about it. But that’s not my department, is it?

  • 4. Gareth Rees replies at 13th October 2009, 8:35 pm :

    Duly blogged, though nobody reads my blog either.

  • 5. Open Knowledge Foundation&hellip replies at 20th October 2009, 1:40 pm :

    […] to a pointer from the ever-aware Julian Todd we’re heartened to see these pledges being made at the Conservative Party Conference in the […]

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