Some politicians seems to think so. Especially in Britain right now. Remember, there is a general election in the UK in June.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown (Labour) called for smarter government back in December when he presented the reform of public sector, assisted by the legendary WWW-father Tim Berners-Lee. Brown talkes about what he calls “third generation of public service”:
The next stage of public service reform will be characterised by a radical shift of power to the users of public services, all users, not just those who are wealthy and powerful, not just those who have the resources to make the best of what government offers them. Power will shift to everyone who needs to use our public services.
In shorter and clearer words; Berners-Lee is leading the work to ‘make public data public’, and the data.gov.uk (inspired by the American data.gov) is supposed to be an “single easy to use online access point” to public data. The site is not released, but it is supposed to look like this.
“We’re going to set this data free. In the first year of the next Conservative Government, we will find the most useful information in twenty different areas ranging from information about the NHS to information about schools and road traffic and publish it so people can use it.
This information will be published proactively and regularly – and in a standardised format so that it can be ‘mashed up’ and interacted with.”
Boris Johnson (Conservative), Mayor of London, has recently launched a prototype version of London’s datastore (it will formally launch at January 29), and more than 200 data sets will be released. This is how Johnson explains the rational behind the datastore:
The US has led the way on this idea of setting their data free for anyone – students, campaigners, software developers – to use. Now it’s time for Britain to get up to speed and I want London, as the greatest city in the UK, to be at the forefront of this revolution, that will not only increase democracy, but also provide a potential money-spinner for the city’s hugely important software development sector. (via Vox Pubica)
Basically, they are all saying the same. So how can they win votes (when you exclude all other political topics) on their identical open data policy?