TSO embraces open public information

I like to think I'm skeptical not cynical but some days it's tough. This latest initiative from TSO, OpenUp, has got me (and others) plunging into cynicism.

From a TSO email:

How would you use public data to benefit you and communities nationwide? The best idea wins £1,000 cash and a TSO development fund of £50,000

As an individual who understands the benefits of taking a wealth of data and transforming it into a user-friendly source of information, TSO, publishers of ITIL®, have launched the OpenUp challenge giving you the opportunity to turn your idea from an initial concept into an innovative new product.

Public data is now available via data.gov.uk so there's endless potential to bring it all together to create an online tool that presents valuable information for communities across the country to benefit from.

While I'm all for TSO's branching out from the commercial exploitation of government-funded process into government-funded data, what a shame TSO and OGC don't embrace the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations as enthusiastically as TSO now dives into the Public Data Transparency Principles.

When one company, Van Haren, took the ITIL content, for which they believed they had a licence, and made it available in an online Flash version which was user friendly and cheap as chips, OGC and TSO scrambled to shut them down by weaseling out ("not within OGC’s public task") of the PSI Regulations for ITIL and Prince2 and other "value-added" content. This led to a scathing report from the OPSI ("this begs the question as to why [OGC] sponsors the publication of proprietary IT service management guides").

So for TSO to talk about "use public data to benefit you and communities nationwide" and OGC to say "OGC is pleased [to] comply with the PSI regulations" is Orwellian. Oh but I shouldn't be cynical.


Hello Skeptic, I hope all

Hello Skeptic,

I hope all finds you and the community well.

I believe any attempt to make data public and open is good. However, I have a couple of questions...

1) What defines "public data"?

2) How much of this is truly the responsibility of a government and, if it a government's responsibility, which government will act as the Single Source of Truth (SSoT) for all public data?

3) Given that governments exist because of our taxes and spend our taxes to run themselves in a manner that represents the taxpayers, is spending our taxes on becoming a source for public data a wise thing to do, especially in light of how many other problems exist that governments need to solve?

I personally love the idea of open and public information, which is why I put so much time into IF4IT. However, I'd have to question whether or not the material published by a site like ours should be part of a government platform. First, in my opinion the magnitude of what can be considered public data is huge and I don't believe that its the mandate of any government to help with the collection, publishing and managing of such a superset. Also, if government employees are spending as much time as we do trying to create, publish and manage such information, are they really representing our taxes wisely, since there are so many governmental problems that need to be solved for the taxpayers? Unless a government publishing and maintaining such information leads to more efficient government, less taxes and a better quality of life for the taxpayers, I'd have to question whether or not the government was keeping with its fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayer.

I do have to say that I like the Public Data Transparency Principles and I certainly don't have any issue with there being one government organization that acts as an owner for all public data used by that government and all its sub-governments (UK manages data for itself and all regional and town governments). However, it still doesn't address the issue of which government would be the SSoT for all "peer" governments (UK, US, China, Japan, India, etc.)

Your thoughts?

My Best


The International Foundation for Information Technology (IF4IT)
Open IT Standards & Best Practices

Syndicate content