- Published: Wednesday, 22 April 2009 22:30
- Written by Jonathan Walker
It's hard to believe, but the Government is trying to feed us information and we're turning them down.
The Office of Public Sector Information is busy making all sorts of facts and figures available for people to access using an application process interface (API) which allows them to get information from a Government database and re-present the facts on their own website, in their own way.
For example, you could let someone enter their postcode in a box on a website and present them with their local school results, crime figures, roadworks etc.
I'm not sure what's currently available, but the Government is actually asking people what they want and trying to give it to them. It's had plenty of responses, but how many of them have come from newspapers?
The average journalist doesn't have the technical skills to make use of this data (it takes some programming to grab the right info and present it well). But major newspaper companies should have people who can do this.
There are many other sources of information too. TheyWorkForYou.com allows people to access its database (it might charge a commercial business for this) and if local councils aren't doing it, we should ask them to.
For an example of what I'm talking about, take a look at US website everyblock.com.
Here's a small sample of information everyblock.com offers about the Midtown South neighbourhood in New York.
Someone one day will do something similar in the UK. I think it's an obvious one for local newspapers. We should be adding a service similar to what EveryBlock provides to our websites.