Nigel Shadbolt gives evidence at parliamentary inquiry into statistics and open data

Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt gave evidence to the parliamentary Public Administration Committee on the 22nd of October.

Stephen Shakespeare, Chief Executive of Yougov and a member of the Public Sector Transparency Board, was the second witness.

The witnesses were asked their opinions on the effectiveness of the government’s open data strategy and the extent to which more needs to be done to realise the potential of open data.

The video of the session can be found here and the transcript of the session can be found here.

Nigel Shadbolt named as co-director of UK’s new Open Data Institute

The UK Government has announced up to £10m funding for a new world-leading Open Data Institute to innovate, exploit and research Open Data opportunities. It will be co-directed by Professor Nigel Shadbolt and Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

The new Institute will be based in Shoreditch, the newly designated ‘Tech City UK’ area of London, where there is a huge concentration of Web 2.0 start-ups, and it will involve business and academic institutions.

The Open Data Institute is intended to help demonstrate the commercial value of public data and the impact of open data policies on the realisation of this value. The Institute will also help develop the capability of UK businesses to exploit open data opportunities, with support from University researchers. It will help the public sector use its own data more effectively and it will engage with developers and the private and public sectors to build supply chains and commercial outlets for public data. The Government is to commit up to £10m over five years to support the Open Data Institute through the Technology Strategy Board – in a match-funded collaboration with industry and academic centres.

Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, Public Sector Transparency board member and new director of the ODI, said: “One of the reasons the Web worked was because people reused each other’s content in ways never imagined by those who created it. The same will be true of Open Data. The Institute will allow us to provide the tools, skills and methods to support the creation of new value using Open Government Data.”

Professor Nigel Shadbolt, Founding Partner of Seme4 Ltd, Head of the Web and Internet Science Group at the University of Southampton, Public Sector Transparency board member and new director of the ODI said:

“Data is the new raw material of the 21st century and the UK is world-leading in the release of Open Government Data. Open Government Data not only increases transparency and accountability but also creates economic and social value. The Institute will help business to realise this value and foster a generation of open data entrepreneurs.”

The new Institute is one of a number of measures that the Government announced today as part of a larger initiative to boost UK economic growth.

Nigel Shadbolt at the Open Government Data Camp

Nigel Shadbolt gave a keynote talk on Open Government Data in the U.K. (slides available here) at the Open Government Data Camp.

The event took place in Warsaw on the 20th and 21st of October. It is the world’s largest gathering for discussing Open Data, with approximately 400 people attending from over 40 countries, spanning all continents.

Professor Shadbolt discussed the importance of Open Government Data and the successes and challenges encountered. He also described policy and technology requirements.

Nigel Shadbolt gives opening keynote speech at Ordnance Survey Cambridge Conference

The conference took place from the 26th of June to the 1st of July. Professor Shadbolt discussed the Open Government Data initiative and crowdsourcing, which is the outsourcing of a large task to a group of people via an open call.

The conference, which is held every 4 years and was opened by acclaimed BBC reporter Kate Adie, is a forum for debate on geographical information for chief executives of national mapping organisations and other interested parties.

See UK – Compare Your Neighbourhood

In collaboration with the EnAKTing Project, Seme4 have produced See UK, a demonstrator that gives an end-user visualisation of multiple Open Datasets against a geographic background.

See UK
is a simple visualisation of data that has geographic aspects
and has been published as machine-interpretable Linked Data.

See UK uses data that has been sourced from and processed
into Linked Data where necessary, but is also designed to be able to use
other sources where available. All the datasets are then enriched, by
calculating area totals from point data and inferring aggregate values
for regions that do not have explicit data values, and further
enriched by establishing linkage between the datasets.
These enriched datasets are available directly from the
EnAKTing Project,
and can be accessed using the links below.

The visualisation provides a view centred on a chosen region of
specified size, and most noticeably gives a “pie-chart” that shows the
viewer how that region compares with similar regions around it. It
is thus designed to focus on the information most relevant to the
user. Colour indicates the “worst” (red) and “best” (green) areas
from those shown. This pie-chart is shown in preference to simply
colouring the map itself, as a coloured map confuses the map
features with the data being visualised.
It also gives some context of the real geography
involved, so that a full picture is seen. The user can navigate by
looking and clicking on the pie-chart, or the map, and can thus move
around using whatever view they are taking of the data presentation. A
search by postcode functionality is also supported, aiding the user in
finding specific locations.

An important aspect of the visualisation is that cross-dataset
correlation can be achieved and presented in a natural fashion, as
the data can be viewed as normalised by population or area, in
addition to the raw values. The user can therefore see how regions
compare in terms of, for example, crime density by population or
area, rather than just knowing that their county has little crime,
and guessing this is because the county has a small population or

See UK has been produced as a collaborative activity between Seme4 Ltd.
and members of the EnAKTing project at the University of Southampton.
For further details please contact Hugh Glaser
or Ian Millard; feedback on this application is very