Councils invited to bid for open data cash

The government is inviting applications for millions of pounds to allow public sector bodies to release more data to the public, including for ICT infrastructure.

The money is being made available through two separate streams aimed at improving public services and promoting economic growth by encouraging the creation of data-led businesses and services.

Minister for skills and enterprise Matthew Hancock said: “The release of more open data brings benefits to both consumers and the public sector. Increased access for businesses will also help to fuel growth and encourage even more new data-led businesses and services.”

The first stream, named the Breakthrough Fund, will see £1 million made available for local government, administered by the Local Government Association, with another £1.5 million for central government departments.

This year’s funding make use of best practice and components developed during the first year of the programme.

The Breakthrough Fund is focussed on individual projects at organisational or local authority level, where a small amount of funding can unlock barriers to the publication of open data, including the building of new ICT infrastructure.

The second stream, named the Release of Data Fund, announced as part of the 2011 Spending Review, is aimed at encouraging the release of open data that has a regional or national impact. It has a budget of £7 million between 2013 and 2015, with £1.5 million already released in February.

One of its aims is to support projects that build capacity among data owners to allow open data release through increased resources and training. It also supports data release projects spanning several different data owners.

Heather Savory, chair of the Open Data User Group (ODUG), said: “These funds allow us to tap into a groundswell of innovation to help deliver sustainable and tangible progress, moving us closer to a culture where public data is ‘open by default’.

They empower businesses, public sector bodies and individuals to unlock previously unavailable data and create new opportunities for growth and the improved delivery of public services; through original projects, increased capacity, improved standards and stronger infrastructures.”

The deadline for the first round of funding is 14 May with the second round deadline of 16 July.

Colin Marrs

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