City Hall has updated its online ‘datastore’ with a greater emphasis on the commercial and academic reuse of public data.
When the original version launched in 2010 it was described by Boris Johnson’s office as part of his “ongoing campaign to boost transparency and accountability in the capital.”
Public accountability was also trumpeted when, in June 2012, the Mayor announced a new “Data Dashboard for London” hosted by the datastore which he promised would “make City Hall as open and transparent as possible.”
However City Hall says the new Datastore 2 is “aimed predominantly at private sector businesses, professional city data organisations, academics, the London boroughs and public services”.
And while in 2010 the Mayor said “I firmly believe that access to information should not just be the preserve of institutions and a limited elite,” today he declared the revamped site would “provide a wealth of material that the world’s brightest minds will be able to use to develop new insight and apps that can be used to solve the big city problems that we face on a daily basis.”
The new site has been welcomed by Professor David Gann CBE, Chairman of the Smart London Board, who said. “The Smart London Board, is delighted to support the Datastore as a mustering point for the ‘creative processing power’ of academia, the private and public sector so that we can fully capitalise on the potential of open city data.”
Green party London Assembly member Darren Johnson said he welcomed improvements to the Datastore, including a commitment to sign up the Open Data Institute certification scheme, and a promise to ensure “data isn’t just dumped there with no thought as to its maintenance and accessibility.”
However he added: “I am concerned that the welcome emphasis on the business and creative opportunities for data has been accompanied by an apparent loss of interest in transparency, given the Mayor’s mixed record.
“For example, he still isn’t publishing a breakdown of the frontline workforce in the Met police, after accepting the Assembly’s recommendation to do this made in 2011.
“He also doesn’t publish data hidden in board reports on his progress in meeting manifesto commitments. I will be pressing the Mayor to reaffirm his commitment to transparency, and to look at these specific issues.”