A modern capability


Increase UK capacity for data mashing via higher education

The Taskforce was struck that much of the innovation in the vibrant UK data mashing scene comes from people associated with the higher education sector, either recent or current students or academics.  In fact innovation in public sector data mashing has largely come from individuals and the third sector rather than from the major IT companies that supply the government.

Many of the people doing data mashing have a background in the sciences and specialist research into data mashing should be increased.  The Taskforce also sees great potential in broadening the capability to mashup data out into the social sciences and beyond.  To combine people with a strong research interest in reusing public information with the skills to do so.  The ‘technical’ skills needed to manipulate and present data are diminishing thanks to services such as  Yahoo Pipes and the research information repositories arising in the UK.  In the same way that use of spreadsheets, databases and statistical packages became commonplace in academia in the early 1990s, now might be the time for data mashing to follow a similar path.

Recommendation 25

The government should bring forward a plan to work with the higher education community on an increased UK capacity and capability for data mashing, including a focal point or virtual centre of excellence.  The Cabinet Office should bring forward a plan by Q3 2009.