The University of Southampton

University pioneers open data revolution

Published: 7 March 2011

The University of Southampton today released a range of non-personal data online as part of its pioneering commitment to the open data revolution. which launches today (Monday 7 March) builds on the University's commitment to access by opening up a wide range of data for students to create the information they seek in the way that they want it, such as the development of iPhone apps.

Electronics and Computer Science has already played a significant role in the development of the Open Data movement through the work of Professors Nigel Shadbolt and Sir Tim Berners-Lee as Transparency and Open Data Advisers to the UK Government.

There will be over 20 datasets available on with information about University buildings, National Student Survey statistics, research outputs and financial statements. Over the coming year, the University will progressively increase the bank of data available. Much of the development work for the new site has been carried out by Christopher Gutteridge and Dave Challis of the ECS Systems team, building on an initiative begun in the School some years ago by Dr Nick Gibbins.

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts says: “It is important that universities are transparent and that they provide good quality information to prospective students making decisions about where and what to study. It’s great to see the University of Southampton making this level of data publicly available and helping students make better, more informed choices about their future.”

The University is making the data available under an open licence, from a single point of access and in a standard format – this gives anyone permission to use and reuse the data.

As well as students, the information can be used by anyone to create new apps and services that will be of benefit to the University, its staff, students, visitors and the city of Southampton. The University has already created apps such as an iPhone app to showcase its 2011 Undergraduate prospectus and give further details into life at the University; and Sotonbus, developed by ECS undergraduates Ash Browning and John Isger, which provides real-time information about bus services across the city. iSoton, which acts as a personal assistant for students providing timetables, lecture locations and a campus map, was developed in 2009 by ECS undergraduate student Francois-Xavier Beckers. For the past 10 years, the University of Southampton has been a pioneer in Open Access to research. In 2001 it was the first place in the world to mandate that all its academics should place their research papers online. Since 2009 Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt have been leading the project, and are key members of the current government’s transparency initiative.

Professor Shadbolt says: “The UK leads the world in the opening up of government data using the very latest Web standards. Open data allows people to hold governments to account and improve public services. It is exciting to see Southampton taking a lead in the higher education sector – increased data transparency will make for better decisions all round.”

The University is keen to know about any apps or services developed from the data released today. Ideas can be posted at:

For further information contact: Joyce Lewis; tel. +44(0)23 8059 5453.

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