Government needs to stop wasting money on big IT projects.
March 10, 2009, 1:37 pm
Filed under: politics

Give it in little projects to the little guys.

As I’ve said in the past, government should concentrate on providing data and let it’s citizens build the sites they want out of that.

Some would say that the sites built wont cover the needs of everybody, but then how is that different from today?

Over the weekend a bunch of people got together for Hack The Government Day and proved what can be done when data is free, using screen scraping, they built projects against the data held at companies house, the job center, an API for searching schools, a site for finding a local dentist, a site to review your MPs voting record and a site that took Sport England’s Active Places and improved it using Google Maps. Active Places was developed using £5 million of lottery money.

The sooner this kind of data becomes free, the sooner we start to get these kind of sites available.


2 Comments so far
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Different requirements needed here. For government, data integrity and security are paramount. Whereas the paradigm you’re proposing is geared towards flexibility and performance. Any app that used government data, and on which government decisions are going to be based, I’d want to be comprehensively and exhaustively specified. Just hacking something together and throwing it out there isn’t good enough.

Having said that, there’s certainly room for improvements and efficiencies in the way the public sector currently goes about its major IT project.

Comment by Ian Sales

There are two separate issues here. If an API were made available for the public to access, it would have the same comprehensive specification process as the current monolithic projects. The same data would be presented, but in a machine readable way rather than the current, barely human readable way.

This would work in a very similar way to Google’s current set of APIs. The APIs are competently and effectively designed to serve Google’s needs, but it means that anyone can throw something together that works in no time. The integrity of the data is assure, and the ease of access is too.

Comment by Craig Andrews

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