Jul 09 2014

Harrow Council Speaks About ‘Open Data’ – Don’t Hold Your Breath

harrow_council_logoHarrow Council features in an article on Government Computing this week, with something about Open Data – that’s sharing the data it has with the private sector, to “…better realise the potential economic and operational benefits from coordinated information sharing.” That’s undoubtedly good news, if the Council actually follows through, but experience to date shows that the Council has been lax at complying with even the most basic of sharing: the Freedom of Information Act.

The article says:

Harrow Council officer argues for growing need for a specialised data officer role within local government.

Local Councils should consider creating an executive role specifically to handle and manage open data to better realise the potential economic and operational benefits from coordinated information sharing, according to a senior public sector information expert.

Matt Pennells, Harrow Council’s senior geographic information (GI) officer [LinkedIn profile here]- a role designed to provide greater operational efficiency by making use of location data and information – said that the need for a specialised data chief position reflected how “highly important” information sharing is to the functions of local authorities.

“With regards to Harrow, we are moving towards such a role being created. It already partially exists within another senior management role but is not one that allows it to have enough focus. I think currently open data is breaking out of its niche, but economic benefits can easily be realised from it, for example the Ordnance Survey Open Data has supported business growth,” he said.

Given that the Council is currently going through another period of ignoring requests for information, has refused to talk to us about it’s IT strategy and the continual reasons for webs site failure, it’s a nice idea, but absolutely unlikely to happen any time soon. Well done to Mr Pennells for making the case for it, though.

Thanks to V for the tip off; you can read the entire article here.

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