I just stumbled across a great initiative from the UK Cabinet Office. The ‘Show us a better way’ site asks the world at large how it could best mashup the vast data sets the UK government has at it’s disposal to provide useful services. To support this the Power of Information Taskforce have released some previously unavailable data to get people started (no personal info!).
Given the vast amount of raw statistical data that a government must hold, there’s got to be a serious amount of potential there. There are already hundreds of ideas that have been submitted, and looking through them quite a few look like they would be useful if built.
Rightly or wrongly I’ve often thought that the public sector seems to lag behind the private sector in terms of its utilisation of new technology. Initiatives such as this show that in some areas the opposite is true.
Hopefully this will lead to some new useful services for us Brits, but more than that this has to be an encouraging sign for things to come. I can’t remember a government crowdsourcing a problem before, could this be the start of a new trend? For things like this it would seem to make a lot of sense. It’s good to see the government trying to harness some of the ingenuity innovation out there in the world. At the very least it shows that areas of government aren’t ignorant of the changing word around them.