Electronics and Computer Science (ECS), University of Southampton

Electronics and Computer Science (ECS)

The Institute for Web Science: Statement by Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee & Professor Nigel Shadbolt

"We are obviously disappointed at the announcement. However, we do understand that immediate decisions had to be made about what not to start, pending a wider review of priorities in the Spending Review.

Today, the web site of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills notes that the Institute for Web Science remains a proposal still under development.

Naturally, many people have been asking what this means for Web Science and we wanted to provide an assurance that the future remains bright.[1]

Many people have also been asking about the future of the open linked data initiative in the UK after the change of government.

It is clear from the new government's Big Society declaration [2], the Coalition Partnership [3] and speeches such as David Cameron's to TED [4] before the election that open government data is a high priority. Our understanding is that the data.gov.uk portal will in fact grow significantly in the months to come.

Linked data and the new technologies supporting it will, in the near future, enable better public services to be delivered for less, and promote new business opportunities.

The government is maintaining its commitment to the linked data it has already published and to the very large amount which remains to be published.

Recall that the process of opening up UK government data is really in its early stages, and while much has been accomplished there is very much more yet to be done.

Also remember that this work, while essential for the UK’s good governance, prosperity and competitiveness as a place to do business, is part of a wider global movement.

The UK over the last 12 months has played a leading role in this movement. Recently we have seen a re-launch of the USA's portal, data.gov [5], with a large easily accessed trove [6] of linked open data from US government, and many applications.

There is more being added to data.gov.uk all the time, whether it is the NaPTAN data, a GB national system for uniquely identifying all the points of access to public transport, or the eagerly anticipated COINS database detailing Treasury spending [7].

As we enter a phase of cutting back on many things, the linked open data movement is a crucial tool, for government, public and industry to get the most value from the important resources being opened up. During times of austerity, transparency is essential, and open data will play a crucial role."

Tim Berners-Lee and Nigel Shadbolt

[1] http://www.webscience.org

[2] http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/media/407789/building-big-society.pdf

[3] http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Nl1/Newsroom/DG_187877

[4] http://www.ted.com/talks/david_cameron.html

[5] http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2010/05/white-house-data-trove-celebrates-first-birthday/1

[6] http://www.data.gov/semantic/catalog

[7] http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/may/24/data-journalism

More Information.
Posted by Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt FBCS FREng on 01 Jun 2010.