The General Election: A manifesto for open data

Gavin Freeguard wanted to talk about politics.

Or rather, as a general election approaches, he wanted to know what the open data movement would like to see in the manifestos of the parties hoping to form the next government.

Go thoughts! On sticky notes!

Perspectives from the post-its:

  • Data! Make sure data is seen as critical national infrastructure.But, at the same time, don’t make the publication the goal – “make sure we get some benefit”.
  • Double down on the basic, vfm argument – this is publicly funded data, it should be put to public use.
  • Treat open data as a public service. Don’t make vague promises: set a clear and specific vision, with targets.
  • Money, money, money.


  • Appoint an open data commissioner, and make sure they can hold organisations to account. Alternatively… recognise Open Data Camp as an expert body and give it “smiting” powers…(the discussion was up to offer “smiting as a service”).


  • Address over-centralisation: decentralise government data services, and empower local companies or local communities.
  • Extend the ministerial code to cover data publication.
  • Extend the Local Government Transparency Code.


  • Fund the Office for National Statistics to become an open data powerhouse.
  • Open up the Postcode Address File.
  • Create an open register of businesses.
  • Open up geospacial information, and require local authorities that publish maps to release the underlying dataset.

  • Push the argument for private data for public good – it’s happening in water at the moment.
  • Enforce the existing requirement for information requested under FOI to be published.
  • Run an awareness campaign – make sure people know what information exists and what they can do with it. Explain “why that matters.”
  • And, perhaps… work out how to turn all these ideas into a “retail offer” that will appeal to parties looking to win favour with the public.