Open Government Data

The new opengov data poster child ?

You may not like the symbology used in this map.. but you can’t deny that the “Interactive map of England’s green belt” published by the Telegraph Newspaper yesterday is an another important milestone in the opening up of Government Geodata.

It is important for a number of reasons..

Firstly it liberates data that was previously difficult/expensive to obtain from the Department for Communities and Local Government both displaying it on a Google Map, but also making it available for download  as a shape file for use by others – Kudos !

Secondly and rather parochial I accept, it is an example of data that was based on Ordnance Survey mapping published on the web.. not exactly case law but a good precedent supporting the view that a feature must exist as an object in the original OS data for it to be derived !

Thirdly and I would argue of most importance is that this data is really useful.. it is timely as it helps to inform the current debate around the planning system, and it is of real interest to citizens who can easily view areas protected by the planning system close to their homes !

Seems that there is healthy competition in data journalism !

Written and submitted from the Google London Offices  (51.516N, 0.127W)

3 replies on “The new opengov data poster child ?”

As indicated, the green belt data has been provided by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and is based on spatial data maintained by local planning authorities. The data and collation process is described in DCLG’s annual release of green belt statistics.

However at the moment it’s rather unclear to what extent the data in the shapefile can be re-used. The Telegraph article says only that the data is “being made available here to view, explore, share and download”. It is not clear what, if any, licence applies to re-use of the data.

A Telegraph journalist has told me the newspaper has use of the data under an Ordnance Survey Media Licence. That no doubt reflects the inclusion of OS derived data. However my understanding is that a media licence would not typically cover distribution of a full dataset in this fashion; this is an unusual case.

I have asked the DCLG whether the data is re-usable under the Open Government Licence, and they’ve said they will get back to me. I will update if I find out anything further. My hope is that DCLG can be persuaded to explicitly release the shapefile as open data.

Alasdair Rae, a lecturer and researcher at the University of Sheffield, recently wrote an article for the Guardian about the lack of open green belt mapping data.


Thanks for your detailed comment, this does seem to be somewhat of a test case – the issue of the OS view of derived data remains problematic but cases such as this have the potential to move the discussion forward baed on real world examples..

Please do update us if you hear anymore..

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