As reported by the BBC, the UK government has established a task force, aptly named the Power of Information Task Force, to lead a massive data sharing effort. The task force was established in March of this year by Cabinet Office Minister Tom Watson with the goal of fostering social and economic progress by enabling widespread access to government data.
The task force has set up a blog that provides additional information on its activity, as well as examples and links to related topics (including such information as Australian public data licensing). Be sure to check out the Rate Your Prison site as well as FixMyStreet.com.
Since its inception, the task force has been busy getting data out to the public as well as promoting examples of how the data can be used for innovative applications. New APIs for Neighborhood Statistics and National Health Services were released recently in addition to wholesale data extracts provided in Zip files.
Earlier this week, the task force announced ShowUsABetterWay.com, a competition public involvement and suggestions for ideas on how to use the newly available government data. The competition has a £20,000 prize fund that will be distributed for the best ideas on how to use the data. Submit an idea online to enter the competition.
This is one of the first government efforts, if not the first, that is solely focused on public data sharing in the hope that citizens and non-government entities will produce a rich set of applications and mashups. It will be interesting to see what the overall impact is of a "crowd-sourced" effort such as this one, and whether any public concerns over data privacy ultimately limit the amount of data that will be shared.
And for more on government-related APIs our Government APIs and Mashup Dashboard and Government API and Mashup Summary, as well as Raymond Yee's recent post on Should the Feds Focus on Reusable Data or User Interfaces?.