So on Thursday, the UK Government announced plans to release more data on schools, hospitals, crime and transport (then the closure of the News of the World was announced, which was a smidge more important).
Back to the data release and this is apparently not something the Welsh Government is looking to emulate.
I asked a press officer if they were going to release similar data in the near future and this is pretty much the gist of the response I got:
“For the past 10 years, we have made available the minutes of Cabinet meetings and Cabinet sub-committees as well as publishing all decisions taken by ministers.”
I feel like this, while sort of nice from a transparency point of view, this does rather miss the point of open data.
Actually part of the response was that I could just use the Freedom of Information Act to get the data, which spectacularly misses the point of open data.
And isn’t really helpful as trying to get big datasets out of public bodies seems to involve falling foul of the 18 hour time limit a lot (or why I only have spending over £500 data for about six councils out of 22, another thing the Welsh Government doesn’t seem that bothered about).
On the topic of the data, once it starts being released, potentially there will be quite a gap between England and Wales in terms of what information people can easily access about hospitals, GPs and schools.
If the government does manage to build a parent-friendly portal, searchable by postcode, that brings together school spending data, school performance data, pupil cohort data and Ofsted judgements, will people in Wales want the same.
If the Welsh Government doesn’t want to do this, should someone else? (this is sort of what I’m working on at the moment, well that and breaking excel).
As I’ve been focusing on schools,I haven’t really checked the significance of the planned health data releases but I suspect they will be pretty important.
The criminal justice and possibly some of the transport data we should get, which will be nice because I so far have not been able to re-offending data specific to Wales out of the Ministry of Justice no matter how I word FOI requests (back to the 18 hour limit again).
So I’m going to keep on at the Welsh Government, I think it will probably continue to ignore me,and Wale will probably remain an open data backwater.
The Welsh Government’s dedication to open data could be epitomised by its publishing of spending over £25,000, which was announced to start at the end of June. The figures were released on Wednesday and are buried somewhere in a section about facts and figures about the Welsh Civil Service.