4 tips for publishing data under the Transparency Code

The local government open data incentive scheme, which offers grants to English local authorities to publish three themed datasets, was launched three months ago and submissions have been steadily streaming in. Following an update to the Transparency Code earlier this month, local authorities will need to publish more details about their activities in a similar fashion under the revised code issued by DCLG.

We thought we’d let you in on a few insider tips and lessons we’ve learned during the incentive scheme, key areas on which to pay attention when compiling and publishing your data.

Geo-reference data
For licensed data, from Ordnance Survey for example, you’ll need to make sure that you’ve applied for the correct exemptions to publish your data openly. Alternatively, use licence-free data such as is available from the World Geodetic system.

Understandably, not everyone’s going to be au fait with URIs. Generally, a URI will contain ‘/id/’ or ‘/def/’ in the address, and visiting the address in your web browser will show you the details it’s pointing to – helpful when matching up labels and URIs.

Reversed co-ordinates
Make sure you have your latitudes and longitudes the right way round. Get them mixed up and a toilet on Blackpool promenade will be located just off the coast of the Seychelles. A nice change, agreed, but not so convenient!

Misspelt headings
Column headings (i.e., field names) in the first row of the CSV file must match the schema guidance. This is part of making the datasets machine-readable; if a computer can’t recognise the data, it’s going to get grumpy – and subsequently so will data re-users. Cut down support requests and data inquiries by getting this step right first time.

The LGA is running two events to aid councils in complying with the new requirements – click here for more information.

Update: the LGA has published a set of guidance documents to support local authorities in understanding and implementing the Transparency Code. 
posted by esd support on 21st October 2014

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