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The University of Southampton

Key role for Nigel Shadbolt in local government data release

Published: 10 December 2009

Professor Nigel Shadbolt of the University of Southampton's School of Electronics and Computer Science has been asked by the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, and Communities Secretary, John Denham, to lead a panel of experts who will oversee the release of local public data, ensuring that it is linked effectively across relevant agencies, authorities and government departments.

The Prime Minister made the announcement in the course of a speech which launched the initiative 'Putting the Frontline First: Smarter Government'. The aim is to streamline government by strengthening the role of citizens and realigning relationships in local and central government.

This new initiative builds on work which the Government has commissioned over the past year, in particular the advice received from Professor Shadbolt and Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who have been advising the Cabinet since June on the release and linking of significant public data sets.

The expert panel to be headed by Professor Shadbolt will include local government chief executives, IT experts, and entrepreneurs. The Panel will work closely with key and relevant organizations to help improve local public services and empower citizens, with its first meeting planned for January. Over a period of two years it will aim to advance understanding of why the release of local public data is important and how it can be used for the benefit of the public. The Panel will also advise on the development of the site (which goes live in January 2010) for all public data.

The panel will receive secretariat support from the Department for Communities and Local Government

Nigel Shadbolt commented: "Making more public sector information and data available is crucial if we are to exploit the innovative talent available to us in this country to produce really outstanding applications that have social and economic value."

He added: "The commitment shown by the Prime Minister has really encouraged us to be ambitious and I am pleased to help extend this work into local government."

John Denham said:

"The public data panel is part of wider efforts to give local people far better access to information held by local public organisations. It will help to shine a light on what is happening in local areas, increase accountability, help people scrutinise, challenge and drive up standards in their area."

The Prime Minister's speech is available on the website.

Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee is also a Professor in the School of Electronics and Computer Science. Both he and Professor Shadbolt are Founder Directors of the Web Science initiative, which is one of the main research themes in the School.

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