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Open Barnet – the what and the why

What is Open Barnet?

Do you want to know what the council spends down to the nearest penny, all the contracts we hold with suppliers, or even where your nearest public toilet is?

All this and much more besides can be found here, on the Open Barnet portal. This is our primary resource for providing the public with Open Data, data which is machine readable, easy to access and easy to use.

We believe that it’s important to provide residents, businesses and the wider public with the data that is produced, collected and used by the council. This is after all the public’s data, held in trust by us. Open Barnet is essential to making this data easily accessible.

What is Open Data?

Open Data is defined as structured data that is machine-readable, freely shared, used and built on without restrictions.

The Open Definition provides a more detailed definition of Open Data. To summarize the most important points:

  • Availability and Access: the data must be available as a whole and at no more than a reasonable reproduction cost, preferably by downloading over the internet. The data must also be available in a convenient and modifiable form.
  • Re-use and Redistribution: the data must be provided under terms that permit re-use and redistribution including the intermixing with other datasets.
  • Universal Participation: everyone must be able to use, re-use and redistribute. There should be no discrimination against fields of endeavour or against persons or groups. For example, ‘non-commercial’ restrictions that would prevent ‘commercial’ use, or restrictions of use for certain purposes (e.g. only in education), are not allowed.

Why Open Data?

Over the last decade, Open Data has become increasingly high on the agenda both nationally and internationally. In 2013 the G8 leaders signed the international Open Data Charter, which signed them up to a series of principles that ensure their commitment to the publication and promotion of Open Data.

The UK is recognised as a global leader in the field of Transparency & Open Data and has consistently ranked in the top 2 out of 122 countries in the Open Knowledge Foundation’s Global Open Data Index. This ongoing commitment is reaffirmed in the recent Open Government National Action Plan. Locally, our efforts in the London Borough of Barnet have been nationally recognised, with the council being named as one of only 16 local government Open Transparency Champions by the Cabinet Office.

We believe that the public should be able to hold us to account about the services we provide, how we make decisions, and how money is spent in order to judge value for money and efficiency. Greater transparency through the open publication of our data makes this easier. It can highlight potential inadequacies, poor performance, and kick-start improvements in service delivery.

In addition there are huge benefits to making information available in a transparent and open way for use by the public and other organisations. Data is a valuable resource that has the power to support service provision, innovation and the ability of government, civil society and members of the public to make informed decisions. The council’s commitment to transparency is a core priority in our Corporate Plan, and is a central plank to our efforts to maintain the trust of residents.

Open Data and you

For this to happen, public engagement is key. Your feedback is crucial for us to ensure we’re getting things right. Give us your thoughts on the portal. What data and information would you like to see? How can you engage with the data we publish? What would you like to do with the data?

Any and all feedback is appreciated. Let us know at open.data@barnet.gov.uk