Fantastic news for those of us who think more should be done with the piles and piles of statistics collected by the UK government. The Power of Information Taskforce has made gigabytes of data available for the public to propose potential ‘mashups’, combinations of related information visualised in a coherent and comprenhendible way.

One of the most well known projects to come out of this new age of information collection are the much-lauded ‘Crime Maps’ (which I have blogged about before), where crime statistics for an area are superimposed onto a Google Map allowing residents to check the level of reported crime in their local neighbourhood. The promise of this new initiative, called Show Us A Better Way, is to open-up the massive databases up to the public, starting with access to data from the NHS, DEFRA, and Office of National Statistics.

The potential for finding fun and facsinating correlations between seemingly unrelated information is brilliant in itself, but to add a little something extra they’re offering a £20,000 prize fund to develop the best idea. The competition runs until September, and looks like an incredible opportunity to be a part of the nascent digital democracy movement in the UK. Indeed, as I’ve asked in the past, what’s the point of collecting all of this information if no-one can use it?

I’ve got a couple of ideas, but I’m going to keep schtum until I see where this prize-money is going….

[This article was originally posted by me on the Poligeeks blog, a collaborative effort and the brainchild of Mike Rouse, all-round techster and sound chap!]

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