About the Open Election Data project
- What is it?
- There is wide consensus that making public sector data more widely available will aid transparency and accountability. This project offers an opportunity to:
Substantially enhance public access to local-election-result data in a very flexible form through an easy technical fix, and in doing so demonstrate local government leadership in making useful data widely available without central government rules or legislation.
Currently, free public access to this data is in restrictive formats. Any flexible access for comparison and wider use is at a cost from commercial sources.
- How does it work?
- Local authorities already publish election data online. Instead of publishing using arbitrary and user-unfriendly formats, the free technical ‘fix’ called RDFa offers a format that gives the information structure and meaning, with a licence to allow collection, collation and reuse by anyone at no cost.
- Do local authorities have to take part?
- No. There is no obligation to take part. Those who do will be contributing to an open database of local-election results which has never been done before. It will also demonstrate commitment to transparency and openness.
- Do you need any special software/systems?
- No special software is needed, just the ability to mark up HTML (which any competent Content Management System should be able to manage). Details are provided elsewhere on this site. We are also working with suppliers to allow them to provide the service free to their customers and in the process show the flexibility of their systems.
- How much will it cost?
- If the results are going to be published on the authority's website anyway, then using this approach should not cost anything extra. For those authorities who would be publishing their results on the web for the first time, as opposed, it should take a competent web manager no more than a day to put the web pages online in this manner.
- Can local authorities not holding elections in May take part?
- Yes. It would be excellent if councils used this for past election data too.
- Where can we get help or more information?
- Any council wanting to take part can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance and there is also a Community of Practice dedicated to the project at the IDeA website.
- Who's behind this project?
- The initial idea was by Chris Taggart (member of the Local Public Data Panel and developer of OpenlyLocal.com). The idea was first sketched out out in this blog post.
Since then it has gained wide support, including from the Local Public Data Panel, IDeA, Local eGovernment Standards Board, SOCITM, and various councils and regional bodies.