world-wide-web

Berners-Lee urges countries toward open data strategy

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the world wide web, called on governments around the world to open up their data to the public in the same way that the U.K. is.

The internet pioneer believes that releasing publicly held data to the public and software developers will help fight poverty, boost innovation, empower citizens, and reduce corruption.

Tim Berners-LeeIDGNS
Sir Tim Berners-Lee

Speaking at the Open Government Partnership Summit in London recently, Berners-Lee revealed a report called the Open Data Barometer, which shows that the U.K. has the most advanced open data policy.

The report, a joint project between the World Wide Web Foundation and Open Data Institute, is an investigation into how many countries are allowing open data policies.

"The Open Data Barometer is an important part of the puzzle and a good snapshot of where we are now," Berners-Lee said. "What's been brilliant in the U.K. is we got a project in the Cabinet Office to put a lot of data online quickly."

However, Berners-Lee said the U.K. is "only 20 percent of the way there" when it comes to open data, adding that the nation has some serious challenges ahead. "There's a lot to do but there's a massive agenda," he said, pointing out that there's no open data that allows you to turn a postcode or address into a latitude and a longitude.

In the report, the U.S., Sweden, New Zealand, Denmark, and Norway came immediately after the U.K., out of the 77 countries surveyed.

Berners-Lee said only one in ten of the countries that promised to open up data has actually delivered. More than half (55 percent) of the countries included on the report have formal open data policies in place, but many of these governments will not release certain datasets, including company registers and land registers that could provide valuable information to the public and mapping data that could be used by developers behind apps like Citymapper.

Also speaking at the Open Government Partnership Summit, British Prime Minister David Cameron called upon businesses to adopt open data practices, adding that they would be subjected to new rules around publishing of company ownership data.

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