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Opening business minds to open data

The new Google magazine, 'Think Quarterly', features an article in its first edition by Nigel Shadbolt, Professor of Artificial Intelligence in ECS-Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton.

Since 2009 Professor Shadbolt has been working with Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, ECS Professor and inventor of the World Wide Web, as advisers to UK Government and leading advocates of the ‘open data’ movement. They developed the website data.gov.uk, which provides a single point of access to thousands of UK government datasets, and which has focused interest worldwide on the benefits of freeing up public data for business and citizens.

In the article in 'Think Quarterly' - 'Open for Business', Professor Shadbolt explains the scope and challenges of obtaining and publishing non-personal public data in a format that enables it to be re-used for public good, citing examples such as Who’s Lobbying, which reveals the many special interest groups which are aiming to influence government ministers, and TravelOptions which provides information to help citizens find their way round London.

He also reveals the extent to which companies are now turning their attention to Open Government Data, and asks whether businesses’ own data might benefit from similar exploitation. “We know that better information makes better markets”, he says. “Lack of access to information about demand and supply makes it difficult for both suppliers and traders to plan, economise and improve their activities.”

As one of the leaders of the Open Data revolution, Professor Shadbolt is in no doubt that it has plenty of momentum; he concludes: “The Open Government Data revolution is important. Viewed as a precursor to a wider open data movement, it could be as important as any we have seen in the web era.”

Earlier this month, the University of Southampton published its own open data, making it available under an open licence, from a single point of access and in a standard format – giving anyone permission to use and reuse the data.

For further information about this news story contact Joyce Lewis; tel.+44(0)23 8059 5453

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The Doctoral Training Centre for Web Science is based at the University of Southampton; for information about the four-year PhD programme in Web Science, see our DTC admissions pages

For further information about Web Science, see www.webscience.org.


Posted by Joyce Lewis on 28 Mar 2011.