Open By Default: Meeting the Challenges of the Open Data Charter
The signing of the Open Data Charter by G8 leaders in 2013 promised to make public sector data open, free of charge and available to all in re-usable formats. However, despite the attention open data subsequently received, a recent report by the World Wide Web Foundation (featured in a BBC article) highlighted some ongoing problems making the pledges enshrined in the Open Data Charter a reality. Many countries have failed to deliver what the report referred to as a policy framework for open data.
Although the UK and USA were at the top of the global rankings for countries providing access to open data, they and many other countries still have a lot of work before they can claim to have fully open government. Of particular note in the UK is the ongoing debate over access to the Royal Mail’s Postcode Address File (PAF). Although the PAF dataset is cited as the ‘definitive source of postal address information’ in the UK and used in many digital mapping applications, the current charges and licensing arrangements deter many potential users of the dataset. Many commentators have argued that the PAF dataset could become the standard address resource for commercial and non-commercial uses in the UK if it was made available in an easy to use and open format. This would encourage much wider adoption of the dataset and prevent the further proliferation of alternatives sources of address information. With the spotlight back on open access to address data, will 2015 be the year the PAF joins the growing list of open, and free of charge, spatial datasets?