With central government stepping up pressure on local authorities to release public data in standard formats, is there still a need for advocates at a local level?
A fortnight ago the government released advice on Publishing itemised local authority expenditure; a couple of days later Communities Secretary Eric Pickles urged all councils to publish details of all spending over £500.
Mr Pickles was reported to have said that ‘transparency and openness must be the default setting for the way councils do their business’ and that he ‘will call on local government to move at speed to adopt this new approach’.
I suspect many of us want the opening up of data to be effective and useful, and not seen simply as another expectation put upon council staff.
Therefore my hunch is that it’s more important than ever to explain the benefits to those at the sharp end of these new expectations, and to help them understand why the expectations are being made.
We can help each other do that, whether on this blog or elsewhere. Some of us have started collecting arguments for open local data for people to use when faced with making the case for it, and have set up the Open Local Data wiki for collaborating on the development of those arguments.
In my opinion, the better prepared we are to help people respond constructively to these announcements from government, the more likely they are to have a positive effect.