This is seriously exciting. If I understand what it says correctly, the UK government is going to require that a whole raft of interesting and publicly relevant data is made available for public use, through dumps or APIs.
It’s too soon I think to see what all the implications of the data release will be at this stage, but just consider the transport information. It seems that there will be enough publicly available information to do joined-up, real-time public transport planning. Your smart phone will cleverly work out that another train you could catch is a little late and that you should switch platforms to meet it, rather than stick with the one you’re on. You will immediately know the optimum route to cross the city by joining up knowledge of the buses and trains – no longer will you need to wait at bus stops. You’ll be able to tell your phone that, no, it doesn’t take 10 minutes to cross the platform and that you probably will catch that quick connection.
For all those thinking “but that’s possible now” – up until this point, we’ve been dependent on the goodwill of the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) for the data, which is patchy, not universally available and expensive.
Those ideas solve just the low hanging fruit I can think of regarding my personal transport itches. There is data covering transport, weather (PDFs describing the rain probability anyone?) and health. If the data is as open as it seems, we should all applaud UK gov for taking a serious step in the right direction. I await with excitement the start-ups that will jump on this and make all our lives a little bit better.