The death of the data-hugging state?

How Tim Berners-Lee freed government data

In the week that it was reported the government has wasted £26bn on botched IT projects, it's reassuring at least to see one website that looks like money well spent.

Officially launched today, data.gov.uk is Gordon Brown's answer to Barack Obama's Data.gov, and was created with the help of the web pioneer Tim Berners-Lee. The site provides web users with access to public-sector data ranging from statistics on abandoned vehicles to the months of life lost due to alcohol use.

It's a far more radical project than it first appears. As Prospect's James Crabtree argues, the site marks a clear break with the closed, data-hugging state of the past. With the Tories promising to publish online every item of government spending over £25,000, it was essential for ministers to make data more accessible to the public.

In the most exciting development, the data has also been made available to commercial users, meaning we can expect thousands of new apps to be created. You can see a list of the 19 created so far here. There's also an ideas section listing proposals for future data research. Suggestions so far include "i-Need a Pee" -- a GPRS public toilet finder -- and "job discrimination in private and public sector" -- a league table of organisations that have faced employment tribunals for discrimination.

Sites like Data.gov have the potential to transform the relationship between citizen and state. We can expect the electorate, newly armed with data, to subject state spending to unprecedented scrutiny. In the digital age, there is nowhere for failing ministers to hide.

 

Follow the New Statesman team on Twitter

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Show Hide image

Appreciate the full horror of Nigel Farage's pro-Trump speech

The former Ukip leader has appeared at a Donald Trump rally. It went exactly as you would expect.

It is with a heavy heart that I must announce Nigel Farage is at it again.

The on-again, off-again Ukip leader and current Member of the European Parliament has appeared at a Donald Trump rally to lend his support to the presidential candidate.

It was, predictably, distressing.

Farage started by telling his American audience why they, like he, should be positive.

"I come to you from the United Kingdom"

Okay, good start. Undeniably true.

"– with a message of hope –

Again, probably quite true.

Image: Clearly hopeful (Wikipedia Screenshot)

– and optimism.”

Ah.

Image: Nigel Farage in front of a poster showing immigrants who are definitely not European (Getty)

He continues: “If the little people, if the real people–”

Wait, what?

Why is Trump nodding sagely at this?

The little people?

Image: It's a plane with the name Trump on it (Wikimedia Commons)

THE LITTLE PEOPLE?

Image: It's the word Trump on the side of a skyscraper I can't cope with this (Pixel)

THE ONLY LITTLE PERSON CLOSE TO TRUMP IS RIDING A MASSIVE STUFFED LION

Image: I don't even know what to tell you. It's Trump and his wife and a child riding a stuffed lion. 

IN A PENTHOUSE

A PENTHOUSE WHICH LOOKS LIKE LIBERACE WAS LET LOOSE WITH THE GILT ON DAY FIVE OF A PARTICULARLY BAD BENDER

Image: So much gold. Just gold, everywhere.

HIS WIFE HAS SO MANY BAGS SHE HAS TO EMPLOY A BAG MAN TO CARRY THEM

Image: I did not even know there were so many styles of Louis Vuitton, and my dentists has a lot of old copies of Vogue.

Anyway. Back to Farage, who is telling the little people that they can win "against the forces of global corporatism".

 

Image: Aaaaarggghhhh (Wikipedia Screenshot)

Ugh. Okay. What next? Oh god, he's telling them they can have a Brexit moment.

“... you can beat Washington...”

“... if enough decent people...”

“...are prepared to stand up against the establishment”

Image: A screenshot from Donald Trump's Wikipedia page.

I think I need a lie down.

Watch the full clip here:

Stephanie Boland is digital assistant at the New Statesman. She tweets at @stephanieboland