Report says releasing official data will boost the economy

BRITAIN should make more government data publicly available in order to boost the economy, according to a government report released yesterday by YouGov boss Stephan Shakespeare, who is also chair of the Data Strategy Board.

The report says policy decisions on matters such as health and transport should be driven by data analysis.

“To paraphrase Sir Terry Leahy, to run an enterprise without data is like driving by night with no headlights,” explains Shakespeare, who writes a column for City A.M. “Yet that is what government often does. It has a strong institutional tendency to proceed by hunch, or prejudice, or by the easy option.”

Shakespeare recommends creating a new centrally-defined National Data Strategy and wants public sector bodies to publish data swiftly “even if imperfect”.

He also suggests government agencies such as Companies House, the Land Registry and Ordnance Survey should prioritise the overall economy rather than their own income when charging for data.

The report cites the example of releasing live data on London bus times, which it says has saved the economy up to £58m in work time.