The University of Southampton

ECS students highlight Government data failings

Published: 26 March 2014

ECS students Dan Palmer and Elliot Hughes were among the prizewinners at this year’s National Hack the Government event held in London earlier this month.

Dan and Elliot, both final-year MEng Computer Science students, won the prize for their analysis of the quality of open data released by Government departments, a crucial factor in the building of successful apps which rely on Government information.

"We wrote our analysis over the weekend," said Dan, "and were able to show that a significant amount of the data being released by Government departments is not sufficiently accurate to be used in building apps.

"There were some significant failings, including links to files that weren’t there, and links to websites rather than data files," said Dan. "We realize that a couple of years ago the data didn’t exist or couldn’t be found, so it’s a positive development that the Government is promoting the provision of Open Data now. However, we wanted to show that much of the data released by the Government is of low quality and needs to be improved for it to be really useful."

National Hack the Government 2014 was organized by Rewired State. The annual event is aimed at improving transparency, open data and relationships between the Government and active hacking citizens.

Slides from Dan's and Elliot's talk are available here:

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