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 12 July 2008

UKMO rainfall radar and lightning (sferic) location data

Posted in: FTP | Met Office | Trading Fund              

30 Supporters so far - add your name

Posted by: Nicholas Verge, Earthscience Technologies (also on behalf of European Storm Forecast Experiment)

Public Sector Information Holder: United Kingdom Meteorological Office

Information Asset: UKMO rainfall radar and lightning (sferic) location data

The problem

Rainfall radar:

UKMO rainfall radar data is currently only provided on a commercial basis to those that wish to make use of this information. Public access to rainfall radar data for the UK is only available via the UKMO (extremely limited service) or via commercial redistributors. In both cases the data is provided in graphical map form only.

Lightning (sferic) location data:

The UKMO operates a network of arrival time difference (ATD) aferic location detectors across Europe, able to location the position of lightning strikes across the UK, Europe and beyond. Until recently (late 2007) this data, albeit delayed and at a reduced resolution, was available via NOAA in the USA. Since Autumn 2007, UKMO sferic location data is no longer available to the public in any form.

My ideal solution

Rainfall radar data:

3D precipitation echoe intensity data collected by each radar station. Data to be provided in minimally processed form and as echo dBz values for the entire depth of the atmosphere scanned by each radar. If radars are also doplar radar, 3D radial velocity data to be provided too.

Lightning strike (sferic) location data collected by UKMO ATD system:

Sferic locations to be provided in a standard GIS/meterolological file format eg .csv. (latitude and longitude and time of sferic location).

Rainfall radar and sferic location data to be provided via public ftp server. Data to be provided freely without restriction on use, commercial or otherwise, and without restriction on redistribution. IMPORTANT: All data to be made public at the same instant it is available to UKMO staff, ie without deliberate delayment.

What I would do

Access to UKMO rainfall radar and sferic location data will enable the public to monitor the location of current rainfall and electrical storms. The data may be also be used by experts to enable severe weather warnings to be issued via the internet and the media generally as is currently done in the USA. Similarly, for very short range (now-casting) products to be produced and published about those regions that will be imminently effected by adverse or severe weather.

Recent high-rainfall events in the UK have demonstrated how vulnerable society and infrastructure is to severe weather. It is essential in modern country that the public have free and unrestricted access to this meteorological information so they may monitor developing weather situations and on which they make decisions in order that they may protect themselves and their property. Or, simply in order that they may adjust or plan their work or leisure activities.

Posted at Saturday, 12 July 2008 16:53:53 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  Comments [2] #   

Decisions on rights of way orders for Wales

Posted in: Planning              

0 Supporters so far - add your name

Posted by: John Trevelyan, Rowtac Ltd

Public Sector Information Holder: Planning Inspectorate

Information Asset: Decisions on rights of way orders for Wales

The problem

Since early 2007 the Planning Inspectorate has published on its website copies of decisions on rights of way orders in England. Previously it had circulated paper copies to various organisations. The website provides access for all, but covers only the decisions for orders made by authorities in England. The legal procedures are exactly the same in Wales, so why not extend the coverage to include Welsh orders?

My ideal solution

The existing coverage (at http://www.planning-inspectorate.gov.uk/pins/row_order_advertising/map.htm) to be extended to cover orders made by local authorities in Wales and submitted to the Planning Inspectorate.

What I would do

I, and other peole involved in rights of way work, would read the decisions, and refer to them, as I do at present for those in England.

Posted at Saturday, 12 July 2008 11:30:11 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  Comments [0] #   

Post Office name, address and opening times

Posted in: Royal Mail              

2 Supporters so far - add your name

Posted by: Julian Burgess, Opening Times

Public Sector Information Holder: Royal Mail Group

Information Asset: Post Office name, address and opening times

The problem

The Royal Mail provide a branch finder for information on the individual branches, however they won't provide a complete list. The did however confirm that the information is open for reuse: http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/address_and_opening_times_of_pos

My ideal solution

A database readable file of every branch with opening times and ideally other information such as number of kiosk windows.

What I would do

I would use the information to show people the nearest Post Office branch which is open now.

Posted at Saturday, 12 July 2008 11:26:50 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  Comments [2] #   

 11 July 2008

Civil Service Year Book

Posted in: Cabinet Office | Value Added              

7 Supporters so far - add your name

Posted by: Etienne Pollard

Public Sector Information Holder: The Cabinet Office

Information Asset: Civil Service Year Book

The problem

Members of the public who want to access the official list of public bodies and contact details for key civil servants are encouraged to access the Civil Service Year Book. This costs £60 to purchase in hard copy, and £125 per year to access online.

Charging for access to key data contained in the CSYB discriminates against private citizens and non-profit organisations that cannot afford to pay these annual fees, but who have a valid reason for accessing this information. Certain charities and non-profit groups have taken to republishing extracts from the CSYB for the benefit of their members and the general public, but this is inefficient, difficult to keep current, and technically forbidden by the CSYB content licence.

"The Civil Service Year Book (CSYB) is the definitive official reference for central government in the UK providing the most authoritative source of up-to-date information on the Civil Service. It is the essential guide to the work and structure of the Civil Service in the United Kingdom."

Source: Cabinet Office and OPSI websites

My ideal solution

I would like you to release the core data from the Civil Service Year Book (CSYB), and make it freely available online in a structured format.

If you released the core data under a Click-Use PSI Licence then it could be integrated into other websites, and could potentially be integrated with other publicly available data to increase its value and usefulness.

What I would do

Work with other like-minded people to build a useful, free to use website that allowed people to search the CSYB data. Eventually, combine this data with other public available information to make the core data even more useful.

Why I want this

I want everyone to have access to all of the information in the CSYB, not just people who can afford £125 per year for a subscription.

Who this would help:

  • Trade associations (especially small groups) and SMEs who wish to engage with a public body listed in the CSYB
  • Charities and other non-profit groups, including campaigning groups, who need to know where to direct suggestions, non-FOI queries or complaints
  • Employees of public bodies that do not have automatic subscription to the CSYB website or a hard copy subscription
  • Academics, politicans, journalists, researchers and private individuals who wish to contact key personnel in a public body and who need to know where to direct their suggestions, non-FOI queries or complaints

Posted at Friday, 11 July 2008 05:47:05 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  Comments [0] #   

National Land & Property Gazetteer and Scottish National Gazetteer

Posted in: NLPG | IDeA              

5 Supporters so far - add your name

Posted by: John Jones

Public Sector Information Holder: The Improvement and Development Agency and The Improvement Service in Scotland

Information Asset: National Land & Property Gazetteer and Scottish National Gazetteer

The problem

Many services rely on identifying a particular address in an unambiguous way. A lot of those services also need to know exactly where the address is located.

For example, Matthew's idea for using Electoral Boundary Data would be even more useful if it could identify exactly which dwellings fall either side of a boundary between neighbouring constituencies or wards.

Certain address location products are built on top of the Royal Mail's PAF and marketed by Ordnance Survey which, as a trading fund, might be reluctant to reduce its licence fees for the time being.

Fortunately, local government has invested independently in collecting its own address database and collated two national gazetteers - one for England & Wales and the other for Scotland. Oddly enough, those don't seem to be available either.

My ideal solution

  1. A web service, accepting a request in the form of an approximate address, with a response consisting of one or more 'definitive' structured addresses which match either exactly or closely plus their coordinates or preferably the shapes of their footprints.
  2. A web service working in reverse, accepting a request in the form of a location - for example from a GPS receiver - with a response again consisting of one or more nearest 'definitive' structured addresses plus their coordinates or preferably the shapes of their footprints.
  3. A complete national file of all 'definitive' structured addresses plus their coordinates or preferably the shapes of their footprints. That would allow developers to build their own solutions, without necessarily relying on access to the web services.

What I would do

So many things would become possible, as such a large proportion of information is related to land and property or its owners or occupiers.

Posted at Friday, 11 July 2008 05:42:33 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  Comments [0] #   

 10 July 2008

School Performance Tables

Posted in: DCSF | REST API | XML              

5 Supporters so far - add your name

Posted by: Ave Wrigley

Public Sector Information Holder: Department for Children, Schools and Families

Information Asset: School Performance Tables

The problem

The DCSF school performance tables are available on the DCSF website (http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/performancetables/) but not in a format that is easily usable.

My ideal solution

I would like to access this data in a more convenient format (preferably XML, or through a REST API). I would also like to link this data with other information sources about schools (e.g. Ofsted reports) so it is important to have a universal system of school identifiers (currently DCSF and Ofsted appear to use independent systems).

What I would do

I would use it in my google maps schools mashup (http://www.schoolmap.org.uk/) to help people to access information about local schools more conveniently.

Posted at Thursday, 10 July 2008 17:30:09 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  Comments [0] #   

 8 July 2008

Roadworks and improvements

Posted in: Highways Agency              

2 Supporters so far - add your name

Posted by: Carl Blanchard, Katiya Technologies

Public Sector Information Holder: Highways Agency

Information Asset:Roadworks & improvements

The problem

Close to my home they are doing major road works and restructure the road, it was spoken that they were making the road wider, however the current layout does not look like its going to be any wider at all, i tried to obtain the plans online but couldnt locate them, so it would be a huge benefit for people to obtain such information, it would also be crossed referenced with gas, electric, cable companies so that they all do the work at the same time rather than have new roads laid only to be taken up again a few months later.

My ideal solution

Website which shows plans, time scales for road works and improvements, also cross referencing system to allow companies to perform the work at the same time.

What I would do

Build a website to handle the data.

Posted at Tuesday, 08 July 2008 21:59:43 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  Comments [1] #   

Output from UKMO numerical weather prediction models

Posted in: FTP | Met Office | Trading Fund              

4 Supporters so far - add your name

Posted by: Nicholas Verge, Earthscience Technologies / European Storm forecast Experiment

Public Sector Information Holder: United Kingdom Meteorological Office (UKMO)

Information Asset:Output from UKMO numerical weather prediction models

The problem

Output form the numerical global weather prediction models run by the UKMO is currently only provided for external use on a commercial basis (acedemic research excepted). Currently, anyone requiring comprehensive NWP model output for Europe and who cannot afford commercial prioducts, is limited to using the output of the Global Forecasting System run by NOAA in the USA. of a coarser resolution and overall, somewhat less accurate. Becasue of the inherrant unpredictablity of the atmosphere reliance on a single NWP model is not recommended. Instead the ouput from as many NWP models as can be accessed should be considered. Currently the ones developed for forecasting the weather over the UK are effectively off-limits to the public.

My ideal solution

The ideal solution would be for the UKMO to realease all fields, at full temporal and spatial resolution, output from its NWP models as the output is generated, ie without delay. Data should be provided in standard meteorological file formats (GriB2 and/or netCDF) and uploaded to an FTP server for public access.

Output from the following models is requested: the Unified Global Model, regional models including and not limited to the North Atalntic and European Model. Mesoscale models including and not limited to the UK Mesoscale Model.

Model output should be provided for free, and without restriction on how the model ouput may be used redistributed or commercialised.

What I would do

Making such data avilable would allow:

In general....

  • Creation of websites displaying the model output in map and other graphical forms.
  • Higher level products including and not limited to specialist forecasts for different actrivities and industries.

With respect to the European Storm Forecast Experiment (ESTOFEX*)...

If made available the European Storm Forecast Experiment would use output from these models as the basis of the daily forecasts by its expert storm forecasters of the expected occurence of thunderstorms and associated severe weather (tornadoes, large hail damaging straightline winds and high precipitation) from these across the UK and Europe. With the availability of more-accurate and higher spatial resolution model output, ESTOFEX would be able to make more-detailed and accurate forecasts than at present and issue in addition, severe weather watches and warnings as is currently done in the USA.

*ESTOFEX is a scientific exxercise and a non-commercial group of made up of volunteers.

Posted at Tuesday, 08 July 2008 21:52:03 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  Comments [0] #   

National Planning Appeals

Posted in: Planning | REST API              

2 Supporters so far - add your name

Posted by: Richard Pope, PlanningAlerts.com

Public Sector Information Holder: Planning Inspectorate

Information Asset:National Planning Appeals

The problem

Planning Alerts.com is a volunteer run free service that emails people when a planning application has been loged near where they live. We would like to be able to add national planning appeals to this service (ones made direct to the planning inspectorate).

My ideal solution

A data feed of national planning appeals ideally in this format: http://www.planningalerts.com/lambeth.xml but any machine readable format is fine.

What I would do

Use it to email people when a national planning appeal is made.

Posted at Tuesday, 08 July 2008 10:37:37 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  Comments [1] #   

Schools database (EduBase)

Posted in: ATOM Feed | DCSF | REST API              

4 Supporters so far - add your name

Posted by: Feargal Hogan

Public Sector Information Holder: Department for Children, Schools and Families

Information Asset: EduBase

The problem

June 2006 I was setting up a school governors website and was very interested in allowing new members to say which schools they are associated with. I asked DfES for a list under FoI. Scottish, Welsh and NI lists are available.

DfES directed me to Edubase who 'allow' download of 150 school details for free but require payment (via "Go Direct" on 01943 854854) for larger tranches.

My ideal solution

A spreadsheet, similar to http://www.dfes.gov.uk/localauthorities/section52/docs/DfES_Leagateway_document_408.xls, published regularly but containing the fields listed in the Edubase dataset.

What I would do

Build a feed to make this available as RSS/xml

Posted at Tuesday, 08 July 2008 10:03:12 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  Comments [1] #   

Bills

Posted in: Bills | Parliament | REST API              

6 Supporters so far - add your name

Posted by: John Cross

Public Sector Information Holder: UK Parliament

Information Asset: Bills

The problem

The way bills are currently published makes it excessively difficult for people/organizations to provide:

(i) email alerts where a bill mentions something of interest
(ii) information about which amendments an MP has voted for
(iii) allow people who understand bills to annotate them
(iv) many other useful services

In short, the way bills are published makes it more difficult for campaigning groups and charities to bridge the gap between the people who pass the laws and everyone else.

My ideal solution

The bills should be published as structured data. This is relatively easy and inexpensive but once it is done people and organisations can start the real work of building useful applications.

One such organisation MySociety has already gone as far as setting out how the data could be structured and has estimated the initial cost to be around £10,000. They have also estimated that no more than one full-time employee would be needed (while Parliament is in session) to published the bills in a structured form.

See technical details suggested by MySociety here: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/freeourbills/techy

What I would do

I am not a software programmer so if the data was published I would have to wait for organisations like MySociety or Friends of the Earth or Unlock Democracy to build applications that I could use to:

  • sign up to email alerts to find out about things I care about
  • find out how my MP was voting on bills/amendments
  • find out what amendments actually mean
  • lobby my MP to vote for/against

Posted at Tuesday, 08 July 2008 09:54:18 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  Comments [1] #   

 7 July 2008

Efficiency & Fairness White Paper

Posted in: Copyright notice | Creative Commons | OPSI | White Paper              

2 Supporters so far - add your name

Posted by: William Heath

Public Sector Information Holder: Office of Public Sector Information

Information Asset: Efficiency & Fairness white paper and future white papers

The problem

This is a minor irritation not a big issue. But the (c) Crown copyright notice on recent Cabinet Office Excellence and fairness white paper reads:

"The text in this document may be reproduced free of charge in any format or media without requiring specific permission. This is subject to the material not being used in a derogatory manner or in a misleading context."

This sounds like a tax on dissent. It casts government in a bad light because it's hard to see how it would be enforced or damages assessed.

My ideal solution

Wouldn't
It
Be
Better
If
(Wibbi)
there were simply a crown copyright or creative commons notice, and people were allowed to quote this publicly paid-for material for any purpose - critical, satirical, polemic or just plain old discussing policy which is surely what a white paper is intended for.

What I would do

Exactly the same as I do now, except I wouldnt gripe about it.

Also we would all lose that nagging feeling that
a) we might face sanctions for quoting extracts and being critical and
b) government is still being paranoid and unreasonable.

Posted at Monday, 07 July 2008 09:34:44 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  Comments [1] #   

London Gazette Supplements

Posted in: ATOM Feed | London Gazette | OPSI | REST API              

4 Supporters so far - add your name

Posted by: Harry Metcalfe

Public Sector Information Holder: Office of Public Sector Information

Information Asset: London Gazette Supplements

The problem

Notices & Supplements are not available in any machine readable format. They contain a wide range of extremely useful information about the activities of government and business.

My ideal solution

I would suggest two improvements that should run alongside each other:

  • A REST API to query the existing database of notices and supplements. Data should be returned in XML or some equivalently useful format, and the API should be able to perform text searches, limit results by date or the type of notice/supplement, etc.
  • An Atom feed for new notices. The system should provide a "see everything" feed as well as allowing users to specify what they'd like to see more narrowly, along the same lines as the database search API. This is essentially the same as the API, but provides 'live' access to the latest information in the gazette, rather than a search for its back catalogue.

What I would do

This is a rich dataset that provides many opportunities for innovation. One could use the information to monitor for the registration of company names of interest and to be notified of corporate insolvencies. Notifications of upcoming major roadworks could be overlaid onto a map, as could applications to discharge fluids into national waterways.Various notifications of applications for planning are published in the Gazette, which could be of great interest to those affected by them, and could be worked into services such as PlanningAlerts.com.

There is such a wide variety of data in this dataset that the possibilities are limited only by imagination.

Posted at Monday, 07 July 2008 09:20:33 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  Comments [0] #   

 5 July 2008

Electoral Boundary Data

Posted in: Ordnance Survey | Trading Fund              

16 Supporters so far - add your name

Posted by: Matthew

Public Sector Information Holder: Ordnance Survey

Information Asset: Electoral Boundary Data

The problem

I find it odd that if I want to know the actual boundary of the ward or constituency I am in (co-ordinates, not just an image), I have to pay Ordnance Survey lots of money for their Boundary-Line product. I would have thought that, given it's quite important to know which MP or councillors I'm going to have the option of electing, that this information should be freely available as part of a healthy democracy; it's compiled by the various publicly funded Boundary Commissions/Committees as far as I know.

My ideal solution

I think the actual data rather than just images of the boundaries should be available, so that people can create things using the data - you can't do anything with images besides display them. For example, I can't create a Google map (using their My Maps feature) of my ward marking on where and when councillors hold their surgeries, and other local amenities. I can't create an application that asks people to select where they live on a map and it tell them if their Parliamentary constituency will be changing at the next general election, what it's changing to, and what difference that makes to them.

I am aware of the election-maps.co.uk website, but this is extremely hard to use - you have to know the name of your area before you can enter a postcode, you can't look up by e.g. ward name, and it only provides images of the boundaries.

Originally posted in the OPSI Discussion Forum.

Posted at Saturday, 05 July 2008 08:24:54 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  Comments [2] #