Defra beats open data target

The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has surpassed its self-imposed target of releasing 8,000 datasets for reuse.

Just over a year ago, Defra’s Secretary of State, Liz Truss MP, announced that over 8000 datasets from the department and its arms’-length bodies would be made available as open data before the end of June 2016.

The department says that a total of 11,007 open datasets have now been published by Defra group as of 4pm on 28 June 2016 – 10,146 since 25 June 2015, when the Secretary of State made her announcement of Defra ‘going open’.

Defra suggests that this is just the beginning, with the post going on to say that the drive to publish was to kick-start a data revolution within Defra, which would see data that could be used by Defra’s customers, including businesses, charities and partners in the public sector, is made available for them with minimal restriction. Better consideration of the usability of data in turn improves sharing and use of data within the Defra group, joining up the network of agencies and delivery bodies and enabling data-driven decision making across the group.

Defra’s data has been used to power apps that tell people about their local river levels and risk of flood, or let leisure-seekers  know about the water quality where they choose to swim or engage in outdoor pursuits. Data has also been used to chart changes in food consumption, identifying how food trends link to popular culture and changes in lifestyle. What’s more, 3D maps made from LiDAR data used by archaeologists has helped to find lost Roman roads in our countryside.

The next steps, the department says in a blog, are to make sure that the published data is as useful as it can be for users, which will result in dataset improvements and more data from parts of Defra that haven’t been so heavily involved up to now.

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