Tim Berners-Lee on the year Open Data went worldwide

by Richard Fahey on 15/03/2010

At TED 2009, Tim Berners-Lee called for “raw data now” — for governments, scientists and institutions to make their data openly available on the web. At TED 2010, he revisited this theme and illustrated a few interesting examples of real world linked data.

Some of the examples he references include:

UK Bike incidents – based on data from data.gov.uk

Paul Clarke, in the U.K. government blogged that, “Oh, I’ve just got some raw data. Here it is, it’s about bicycle accidents.” Two days it took the Times Online to make a map, a mashable map, we call these things mash-ups, a mash-up, user interface that allows you to go in there and have a look and find out whether your bicycle route to work was affected.

Zainsville water map – created by Cedar Grove Institute for Sustainable Communities

Look at Zanesville, Ohio. Here is a map a lawyer made, put on at the water plant, seeing which houses are there, which houses have been connected to the water? And he got, from other data sources, information to show which houses are occupied by white people. Well, there was too much of a correlation, he felt, between which houses were occupied by white people and which houses had water, and the judge was not impressed either. The judge was not impressed to the tune of 10.9 million dollars. That’s the power of taking one piece of data, another piece of data, putting it together, and showing the result.

Where Does My Money GoOpen Knowledge Foundation

Let’s look at some data from the U.K. now. This is U.K. government data, completely independent site, Where Does My Money Go, allows anybody to go there and burrow down. You can burrow down by a particular type of spending or you can go through all the different regions and compare them. So, that’s happening in the U.K. with U.K. government data.

California stimulus spending - California Economic Recovery Portal

Here’s a site which allows you to look at recovery spending in California. And take an arbitrary example, Long Beach, California, you can go and have a look at what recovery money they’ve been spending on different things such as energy. (more at recovery.gov)

Postcode NewspaperNewspaper club

If you have lots of data about places you can take, from a postcode, which is like a zip plus four, for a specific group of houses, you can make paper, print off a paper which has got very very specific things about the bus stops, the things specifically near you.

Afganistan Election dataNational Democratic Institute

This is a mash-up of the data which was released about the Afghan elections. It allows you to set your own criteria for what sort of things you want to look at. The red circles are polling stations, selected by your criteria. And then you can select also other things on the map to see what other factors like the threat level. So, that was government data.

OpenStreetMap Haiti edits – Port-au-Prince before and after

Here focusing in on Haiti. The map of Port au-Prince at the end of 2009 was not all it could be, not as good as the map of California. Fortunately, just after the earthquake, GeoEye, a commercial company, released satellite imagery with a license which allowed the open-source community to use it.

This is January time lapse, people editing, that’s the earthquake. After the earthquake immediately people all over the world, mappers who wanted to help, and could, looked at that imagery, built the map, quickly building up.

Haiti OpenStreetMap

We’re focusing now, Port au-Prince. The blue is refugee camps these volunteers had spotted from the air. So, now we have, immediately, a real-time map showing where there are refugee camps, rapidly became the best map to use if you’re doing relief work in Port au-Prince.

Witness the fact that it’s here on this Garmin device being used by rescue team. And Haiti, there is the map showing on the left-hand side there, that hospital, actually that’s a hospital ship.

In finishing Tim Berners-Lee thanks all those involved the the projects above and similar initiatives worldwide, and notes how the open data movement has just got started:

So, if you’ve been involved in that at all, I just wanted to say whatever you’ve been doing, whether you’ve just been charting raw data now, or you’ve been putting government or scientific data online, I just wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you very much, and we have only just started.

Related:

More on data.gov.uk launch

Government data around the world

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