In Holding Companies to Account – Open Data Consolidation, I noted a couple of different ways in which we could use opendata to consolidate something of what we know about companies that provide services to or on behalf of public bodies, or otherwise receive monies from public services:
1) structural consolidation, in the sense of identifying companies that are part of the same corporate group;
2) financial consolidation, in the sense of identifying spend made to the same company from across different public bodies, and/or spend to different companies from the same corporate group from one or more public bodies.
In respect of the second notion, see also Open Data, Transparency, Fan-In and Fan-Out which describes how we can also start to consolidate connections and payments made between public bodies (also Public Sector Transparency – Do We Need Open Receipts Data as Well as Open Spending Data?).
I’ve previously doodled thoughts on whether there is a need for companies receiving public money to disclose those receipts (eg Spending & Receipts Transparency as a Consequence of Accepting Public Money?) – but whilst they may have no obligation to do so, the availability of open transactions data (and increasingly, open contracts data (eg The Local Government (Transparency) (Descriptions of Information) (England) Order 2014, h/t @owenboswarva) means that we can start to aggregate and publish this information, on their behalf, as part of a corporate watch activity:-)
So here’s a what if… What if there was a way we could set up “open public data reflector” sites that would aggregate data about a particular company or corporate group, aggregate it, and reflect it back? As a start, we could simply flip requirements put onto public bodies (eg publication of spend over £25,000 for large departments or services) to complementary views on the private corporate side (publication of all receipts over £25,000 from large public bodies, publication of summed receipts over £25,000 from local councils (who have a lower spending amount disclosure threshold). Of course, in the latter case, we’d need to aggregate the smaller amounts in order to calculate the sums.) By aggregating contract information, (additional) spend against contracts could also be tracked.
In this respect, I could imagine someone like SpendNetwork setting up a white label site that would allow civil society activists to fire up a ‘corporate watch’ website that reflects back open public data that refers to a particular company (something a little more sophisticated than their current raw data listings). If they made their data a little easier to access, I may be tempted to play with it…
Alongside the open public data reflector, it might be useful to have a “what do they know about you?” reflector that describes the sort of information the company holds about you that could be accessed via a Data Protection Act subject access request. (I’m not sure how we could find that out? Get several people to put requests in, extract the field names/metadata elements and publish those?) Thinks: wouldn’t it be nice if there was a request that could be made of data-controllers that forced them to disclose the fields and descriptive metadata for any data that would inspect when putting together a subject access request response?!;-) A “meta” subject access request, in other words?
PS Examples of outputs relating to aggregated spend with particular companies:
- Centre for Entrepreneurs/Spend Network report: Spend Small – Local Authority Spend Index.
If you know of any more, please let me have a link via the comments.
An article in the Observer declares Academy chain accused of ‘privatisation by stealth’ over plan to outsource jobs, a report on how the Academy Enterprise Trust (AET) has “selected” PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to partner with it in establishing an LLP “to take over responsibility for providing school business managers, IT staff, secretarial staff, and finanicial expertise, along with speech and language therapy provision, education psychology, education welfare, curriculum development and professional development”.
Here’s a quick chart of academy groupings with at least 15 academies in the group:
As you might expect, when talking about their performance, the group in part assumes you must be referring to their financial rather than just educational performance:
(By the by, they really need to talk to their webteam about the domain mapping…)
As well as outsourcing everything, it looks like the AET is of a size where they can start raking it in as a provider of teacher training courses:
(I don’t know if this means they can use their own academies for placements, getting cheap labour and perhaps a training grant bung, as well as the more general student fees, for each placement?)
School Direct places are offered by the AET National Teaching School Alliance in partnership with an good or outstanding Ofsted accredited teacher training provider.
You will spend the majority of your training in the classroom, building your confidence in an academy environment whilst receiving excellent mentoring support.
You will complete placements in academies who are experienced in initial teacher training and who excel at training and developing their staff.
All School Direct places will lead to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). In addition, some providers also accredit a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)
Participating AET academies recruit and select their own trainees with the expectation that they will then go on to work within the Academies Enterprise Trust, although there is no absolute guarantee of employment.
You may apply directly to the Academies Enterprise Trust National Teaching School Alliance or directly to the AET academy that you wish to be trained in or contact the AET National Teaching School Alliance.
Scale-up, plug-in, live-off public money and private student debt, partner with “trusted auditors” to disburse funds to private providers (because they previously got rumbled when making disbursements to themselves…?) – is that how it works?
By the by, the following schools are part of the AET group:
– primary: Westerings Primary Academy (Rayleigh and Wickford), Plumberow Primary School (Rayleigh and Wickford), Ashingdon School (Rayleigh and Wickford), Weston Academy (Isle of Wight), Hamford Primary Academy (Clacton), Oaks Academy (Faversham and Mid Kent), St James the Great Academy (Tonbridge and Malling), Tree Tops Academy (Faversham and Mid Kent), Langer Primary Academy (Suffolk Coastal), Molehill Copse Primary School (Faversham and Mid Kent), Percy Shurmer Academy (Birmingham, Hall Green), Brockworth Primary Academy (Tewkesbury), Offa’s Mead Academy (Forest of Dean), Severn View Academy (Stroud), Noel Park Primary School (Hornsey and Wood Green), Trinity Primary Academy (Hornsey and Wood Green), Hall Road Academy (Kingston upon Hull North), Newington Academy (Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle), The Green Way Academy (Kingston upon Hull North), Charles Warren Academy (Milton Keynes South), Barton Hill Academy (Torbay), North Ormesby Primary Academy (Middlesbrough), Montgomery Primary Academy (Birmingham, Hall Green), Feversham Primary Academy (Bradford East), Shafton Primary Academy (Barnsley East), St Helen’s Primary School (Barnsley Central), Lea Forest Academy (Birmingham, Hodge Hill), Cottingley Primary Academy (Leeds Central), Beacon Academy (Loughborough), Anglesey Primary Academy (Burton), Four Dwellings Primary Academy (Birmingham, Edgbaston), Caldicotes Primary Academy (Middlesbrough), Meadstead Primary Academy (Barnsley Central), Hazelwood Academy (South Swindon), North Thoresby Primary School (Louth and Horncastle), The Utterby Primary School (Louth and Horncastle);
– secondary: Unity City Academy (Middlesbrough), New Rickstones Academy (Witham), Greensward Academy (Rayleigh and Wickford), Maltings Academy (Witham), Clacton Coastal Academy (Clacton), Aylward Academy (Edmonton), Nightingale Academy (Edmonton), Richmond Park Academy (Richmond Park), Tendring Technology College (Clacton), Bexleyheath Academy (Bexleyheath and Crayford), Everest Community Academy (Basingstoke), Ryde Academy (Isle of Wight), Sandown Bay Academy (Isle of Wight), East Point Academy (Waveney), Felixstowe Academy (Suffolk Coastal), Millbrook Academy (Tewkesbury), The Duston School (South Northamptonshire), The Rawlett School (An Aet Academy) (Tamworth), The New Forest Academy (New Forest East), Childwall Sports & Science Academy (Liverpool, Wavertree), Sir Herbert Leon Academy (Milton Keynes South), Tamworth Enterprise College and AET Academy (Tamworth), Winton Community Academy (North West Hampshire), Broadlands Academy (North East Somerset), Greenwood Academy (Birmingham, Erdington), Cordeaux Academy (Louth and Horncastle), Four Dwellings Academy (Birmingham, Edgbaston), Kingsley Academy (Brentford and Isleworth), Kingswood Academy (Kingston upon Hull North), Swallow Hill Community College (Leeds West), Firth Park Academy (Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough), Hillsview Academy (Redcar);
– special: Columbus School and College (Chelmsford), The Pioneer School (Basildon and Billericay), Wishmore Cross Academy (Surrey Heath), Greenfield Academy (Stroud), Peak Academy (Stroud), The Ridge Academy (Cheltenham), Newlands School (Camberwell and Peckham).
Just doodling, looking for sources of data to try to map out the evolution of corporate groups that are taking over the operation of public services (another few possible pieces in the holding companies to account jigsaw…)
Health and Social Care
The CQC publishes a spreadsheet detailing all the locations it inspects which includes a group/brand identifier that allows us to track individual companies that operate as part of a group or under a common brand [CQC data].
Justice and detention
I haven’t found a nice dataset that identifies the operators of prison and detention facilities. The Ministry of Justice publish Prison and probation trusts performance statistics that includes management information detailing the names of prisons and trusts, but not their operators. There is an unstructured list of contracted out prison operators but no data file? I can’t find a list of operators of immigration removal/detention centres? (Serco, GEO and MITIE may all be operators?)
SLAs and general contract details here – MOJ – Prison Service level agreements and contracts – though no mention of private contractor names? Other possible sources: inspection reports from HM Inspectorate of Prisons. Reports are presented as PDF documents, and appear to include a fact page that includes a statement of Escort contractors, Health service providers and Learning and skills providers. I haven’t found a simple datafile that clearly states the providers of these service types by prison?
As far as probation service delivery goes, I’m not sure what sort of private contracts the probation trusts operate – one way in might be to trawl through the spending data (eg Probation trusts spend over £25,000 (note: that page says “We do not publish everything and HMT lists transactions not to be included in their guidance on data inclusions and redactions” although no link is given to that guidance document…).
The Department for Education publishes a spreadsheet detailing Open academies and academy projects in development that includes the name of the sponsoring organisation.
The Homes and Communities Agency publish results from “an annual online survey completed by all English private registered providers of social housing (PRPs)” – Statistical Data Return (SDR) (see particularly the statistical return full data sheet; amongst other things, this document includes a sheet that associates subsidiary companies with their parent housing trusts).
I don’t really know much about PFI (I don’t really know much about anything linked to in this post!) except that PFI contracts often have large numbers of 000s associated with them. Private Finance Initiative Projects summary data is perhaps one quick way into to exploring that whole can of worms further?
So what other areas, and what other data sources, am I missing?
PS writing about a collaboration between OpenOil and OpenCorporates to map the structure of the BP corporate sprawl, Glyn Moody notes the realisation by OpenOil that “[t]he entire play in the way multinationals operate is in the interplay between the group as a co-ordinated whole…”:
…[T]his unified strategy is played out across over a thousand affiliate companies who each exist as a separate legal “person”. The company naturally seeks to maximise advantage across jurisdictions by combining these different legal persons in the most profitable and least liable way for any given business problem. But even if the group does act with one mind, the price of being able to maintain the affiliate structure as separate legal persons is a bare minimum of autonomous reporting by each of them.
It was as if the … group is a superorganism and its affiliates were the constituent organisms included in the whole, like individual ants or coral. None of those companies had any purpose or would even survive without being integrated into the colony. Nevertheless, each of them has a unique footprint and what we were doing was studying the traces of their uniqueness, their “genetic code”, to see if significant information was stored there which could tell us something about the internal functioning of the colony.
As soon as you start working with data in networked model (where you look for links and relationships that can aggregate data from multiple sources) you soon realise that apparently meaningful or coherent gross level patterns or structures can emerge from the simple interactions and behaviours of individual components. (Supervenience is the term used to describe how the properties of the higher level are derived from (or supervene on) the lower level properties or behaviours. However, in the case of a corporate netwrok, we might image that a goal state created at the higher level by actors with a view over the whole system is what is actually driving the behaviour of subservient lower level actors. An ecological view of the corporate network might look to elements of downward causation to try to explain the behaviour of the lower level parts.)
PPS It’s probably 20 years since I last read heavily, and thought a lot about, parts, whole, levels, supervenience and emergence. And I seem to have forgotten most of it:-( I wonder if the box loads of photocopied papers are still “archived” in my office somewhere… Hmmm…
According to Wikipedia:
In business, consolidation or amalgamation is the merger and acquisition of many smaller companies into much larger ones. In the context of financial accounting, consolidation refers to the aggregation of financial statements of a group company as consolidated financial statements.
I’ve been pondering the use of open data for holding companies to account again (see also here and here, for example) and a couple of ways forward seem to be crystallising out for me, at least in the way(s) I’ve been hacking some data sketches around. These ways loosely map on to the two senses of consolidation described above, I think?
In the first case, using open data sources to map out corporate groupings, or look at how companies start to consolidate into corporate groupings. The OpenCorporates folk are looking at doing this properly – based on share ownership of one company by another – but I’m looking for other signals and sources of data that allow us to associate company names within a wider corporate sprawl. For example, CQC data lists all the locations inspected by that body, along with the group or brand name (if any) under which a particular location operates. We can then use this information to identify all the locations associated with a particular brand or group.
Whilst doing this in the context of sponsoring organisations for school academies, it struck me that once several independent locations have been established or aggregated together as part of a group, if those groups are driven by “growth” strategies, we will presumably start to see merger and acquisition behaviours? [See also other possible courses of action that larger groupings may take: School Chain Locks Out Public Service Values?.] By using open data sources, we may be able to track the first – and then possibly second – phase of this sort of consolidating activity?
In the second case, part of the rationale for identifying corporate groupings is so that we can start to consolidate information about payments made to, and quality or evaluation reports relating to, the members of a particular group. That is, we can start to think about a form of consolidated accounting. For example, we can start to total up all the payments made by the public sector (across both national and local government) to a particular corporate grouping, possibly across several spending areas; or we can look at the quality reports relating to different contracts raised by a particular corporate group as a whole and make a judgement about the service levels delivered by that operator in general. This consolidated quality and/or financial reporting also provides us with a way of looking at the gross behaviour of a company grouping, and comparing it, in accountability terms, with national public services, for example.
I’ve long since been confused about what open data may or may not be good for in accountability or transparency terms, but now I feel as if it’s starting to make sense to me: as a way of shining some light onto the behaviour of private companies operating in the public sector, and also as a way of demonstrating just how much public money is sunk into some of them compared to finding made available to public bodies, for example.
If we could also get tax positions of companies and corporate groups more clearly illuminated as accessible data sources, along with information about their employment and payment practices (so we could, for example, run models on the extent to which the state is also likely to subsidise these companies’ operations through tax, housing and welfare benefits/payments made to their employees compared to those made to public sector employees), we could start to get a better idea about the way public money is actually being spent system wide?
Seems like the Commons Committee of Public Accounts have just produced their report on “Local government funding: assurance to Parliament” [report PDF] which reads to me like they have no idea what’s going on?!
On the question of how open spending data might have a role to play, the conclusions and recommendations (point 6) of the report were as follows:
The quality and accessibility of information to enable residents and councillors to scrutinise local authorities’ decisions varies. If the local accountability system is to work effectively it is fundamentally important that residents can hold local authorities to account for their decisions. It is therefore vital that residents can access relevant and understandable financial and performance information. The Department’s Local Government Transparency Code requires local authorities to publish data, including details of all expenditure over £500, information on senior salaries and details on local authorities’ land holdings and building assets. However, often this data is presented in a way which makes easy and effective scrutiny by the public very difficult. We are also concerned that the public might be less engaged with decisions on services that are significant in terms of expenditure, but do not affect them directly, such as adult care and children’s services. The Department expects that greater transparency of information will empower “armchair auditors” to hold local authorities to account, but there is no evidence that this has actually happened.
Recommendation: The Department should ensure that local authorities conform to the new mandatory Transparency Code on the publication of data, and work with local authorities to improve performance where shortcomings are identified.
Recommendation: The Department should assess whether the data published under the Transparency Code helps residents to scrutinise the performance of local authorities, and if alternative data would be of more value.
Para 18 of the report describes their consideration of this point:
We considered the new system of accountability when it was set up in 2011. At that time, the Department expected data transparency to empower ‘armchair auditors’ to hold local authorities to account for their decisions. We asked the Department whether it had any evidence that these armchair auditors had actually emerged. The Department said it thought that they had, but acknowledged that it had not actually measured whether this was the case. The Department acknowledged that residents play less of a role in challenging decisions on certain services, such as for vulnerable adults and children. For these services, the Department places greater reliance on the role of inspectors, such as the Care Quality Commission, for its assurance.
It seems that where services are delivered “in partnership”, there may also be a few “issues” (para 19):
Government departments are increasingly funding local services through partnership arrangements which are not subject to the same safeguards of local accountability and transparency as local authorities. The accountability structures for this type of arrangement are unclear. Even where the local accountability system is working effectively, it will not be able to provide departments with assurance over funding they grant to partnerships.
Some partnerships, like Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), operate across local authority boundaries. The NAO’s report found that lines of accountability between local authorities and their electorate could be blurred in LEPs, where one local authority makes decisions on behalf of another. The Department told us the benefit of these bodies is that they can tackle issues that go beyond the boundaries of one local authority area and create incentives for the key economic stakeholders to work together. The Department told us it would produce a separate accountability system statement for LEPs and local growth deals.
The quality of evidence provided about “armchair auditors” from Sir Bob Kerslake, (as Permanent Secretary of DCLG?) also reads like something out of a Monty Python sketch…
Q55 Chair: Austin’s got a question, but first I want to pick up on some issues that have not been covered. When the new system of accountability was introduced, we talked about an army of armchair auditors. Have they emerged?
Sir Bob Kerslake: I think they have at a local level.
Q56 Chair: Have they? [“It’s dead”]
Sir Bob Kerslake: I am sure that if you spoke to local councillors, theywould talk to you about the extent to which local residents challenge what they do. [“It’s not dead, it’s resting…”] We heard about one local resident, Mr Jackson—
Q57 Chair: He’s the MP; you would expect him to challenge. [“I took the liberty of examining that parrot…”]]
Sir Bob Kerslake: Well, he’s one of the armchair auditors, I guess, [“of course it was nailed there…”] and I suspect that there are many more at a local level, but it will vary across the country.
Q58 Chair: Have you got any evidence of that? It is one of those hope and pray things, so it would be nice to hear whether it has happened in reality.
Sir Bob Kerslake: We haven’t measured it, but we can, for example, measure the number of people who have put forward requests to take over community assets and things like that
FWIW, I would love to see *any* member of @CommonsPAC show us what an “armchair auditor” could do with a clean and complete local spending dataset, let alone one that’s actually been released! Or perhaps Sir Bob would like to a demonstration…? ;-)
I’ve been in a ranty mood all day today, so to finish it off, here are some thoughts about how we can start to use #opendata to hold companies to account. The trigger was finding a dataset released by the Care Quality COmmission (CQC) listing the locations of premises registered with the CQC, and the operating companies of those locations (early observations on that data here).
The information is useful because it provides a way of generating aggregated lists of companies that are part of the same corporate group (for example, locations operated by Virgin Care companies, or companies operated by Care UK). When we have these aggregation lists, it means we can start to run the numbers across all the companies in a corporate group, and get some data back about how the companies that are part of a group are operating in general. The aggregated lists thus provide a basis for looking at the gross behaviour of a particular company. We can then start to run league tables against these companies (folk love league tables, right? At least, they do when it comes to public sector bashing). So we can start to see how the corporate groupings compare against each other, and perhaps also against public providers. Of course, there is a chance that the private groups will be shown to be performing better than public sector bodies, but that could be a useful basis for a productive conversation about why…
So what sorts of aggregate lists can we start to construct? The CQC data allows us to get lists of locations associated with various sorts of care delivery (care home, GP services, dentistry, more specialist services) and identify locations that are part of the same corporate group. For example, I notice that filtering the CQC data to care homes, the following are significant operators (the number relates to the number of locations they operate):
Voyage 1 Limited 273 HC-One Limited 169 Barchester Healthcare Homes Limited 168
When it comes to “brands”, we have the following multiple operators:
BRAND Four Seasons Group 346 BRAND Voyage 279 BRAND BUPA Group 246 BRAND Priory Group 183 BRAND HC-One Limited 169 BRAND Barchester Healthcare 168 BRAND Care UK 130 BRAND Caretech Community Services 118
For these operators, we could start to scrape their most recent CQC reports and build up a picture of how well the group as a whole is operating. In the same way that “armchair auditors” (whatever they are?!) are supposed to be able to hold local councils to account, perhaps they can do the same for companies, and give the directors a helping hand… (I would love to see open data activists buying a share and going along to a company shareholder meeting to give some opendata powered grief ;-)
Other public quality data sites provide us with hints at ways of generating additional aggregations. For example, from the Food Standards Agency, we can search on ‘McDonalds’ as a restaurant to bootstrap a search into premises operated by that company (although we’d probably also need to add in searches across takeaways, and perhaps also look for things like ‘McDonalds Ltd” to catch more of them?).
Note – the CQC data provides a possible steer here for how other data sets might be usefully extended in terms of the data they make available. For example, having a field for “operating company” or “brand” would make for more effective searches across branded or operated food establishments. Having company number (for limited companies and LLPs etc) provided would also be useful for disambiguation purposes.
Hmm, I wonder – would it make sense to start to identify the information that makes registers useful, and that we should start to keep tabs on? We could then perhaps start lobbying for companies to provide that data, and check that such data is being and continues to be collected? It may not be a register of beneficial ownership, but it would provide handy cribs for trying to establish what companies are part of a corporate grouping…
(By the by, picking up on Owen Boswarva’s post The UK National Information Infrastructure: It’s time for the private sector to release some open data too, these registers provide a proxy for the companies releasing certain sorts of data. For example, we can search for ‘Tesco’ as a supermarket on the FSA site. Of course, if companies were also obliged to publish information about their outlets as open data – something you could argue that as a public company they should be required to do, trading their limited liability for open information about where they might exert that right – we could start to run cross-checks (which is the sort of thing real auditors do, right?) and publish complete records of publicly account performance in terms of regulated quality inspections.)
The CQC and Food Standards Agency both operate quality inspection registers, so what other registers might we go to to build up a picture of how companies – particularly large corporate groupings – behave?
The Environment Agency publish several registers, including one detailing enforcement actions, which might be interesting to track, though I’m not sure how the data is licensed? The HSE (Health & Safety Executive) publish various notices by industry sector and subsector, but again, I’m not too clear on the licensing? The Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) publish a couple of enforcement registers which look as if they cover some of the same categories as the CQC data – though how easy it would be to reconcile the two registers, I don’t know (and again, I don’t know how the license is actually registered). One thing to bear in mind is that where registers contain personally identifiable information, any aggregations we build that incorporates such data (if we are licensed to build such things) means (I think) that we become data controllers for the purposes of the Data Protection Act (we are not the maintainers and publishers of the public register so we don’t benefit from the exemptions associated with that role).
Looking at the above, I’m starting to think it could be a really interesting exercise to pick some of the care home provider groups and have a go at aggregating any applicable quality scores and enforcement notices from the CQC, FSA, HSE and CFOA (and even the EA if any of their notices apply! Hmm… does any HSCIC data cover care homes at all too?) Coupled with this, a trawl of directors data to see how the separate companies in a group connect by virtue of directors (and what other companies may be indicated by common directors in a group?).
Other areas perhaps worth exploring – farms incorporated into agricultural groups? (Where would be find that data? One register that could be used to partially hold those locations to account may be the public register of pesticide enforcement notices as well as other EA notices?)
As well as registers and are there any other sources of information about companies we can add in to the mix? There’s lots: for limited companies we can pull down company registration details and lists of directors (and perhaps struck off directors) and some accounting information. Data about charities should be available from the Charities Commission. The HSCIC produces care quality indicators for a range of health providers, as well as prescribing data for individual GP practices. Data is also available about some of the medical trials that particular practices are involved in.
At a local council level, local councils maintain and publish a wide variety of registers, including registers of gaming machine licenses, licensed premises and so on. Where the premises are an outlet of a parent corporate group, we may be able to pick up the name of the parent group as the licensee. (Via @OwenBoswarva, it seems the Gambling Commission has a central list of operating license holders and licensed premises.)
Having identified influential corporate players, we might then look to see whether those same bodies are represented on lobbiest groups, such as the EU register of commission expert groups, or as benefactors of UK Parliamentary All Party groups, or as parties to meetings with Ministers etc.
We can also look across all those companies to see how much money the corporate groups are sinking from the public sector, by inspecting who payments are made to in the masses of transparency spending data that councils, government departments, and services such as the NHS publish. (For an example of this, see Spend Small Local Authority Spending Index; unfortunately, the bulk data you need to run this sort of analysis yourself is not openly available – you need to aggregate and clean it yourself.)
Once we start to get data that lists companies that are part of a group, we can start to aggregate open public data about all the companies in the group and look for patterns of behaviour within the groups, as well as across them. Lapses in one part of the group might suggest a weakness in high level management (useful for the financial analysts?), or act as a red flag for inspection and quality regimes.
Hmmm… methinks it’s time to start putting some of this open data to work; but put it to work by focussing on companies, rather than public bodies…
I think I also need to do a little bit of digging around how public registers are licensed? Should they all be licensed OGL by default? And what guidance, if any, is there around how we can make use of such data and not breach the Data Protection Act?
PS via @RDBinns, What do they know about me? Open data on how organisations use personal data, describing some of the things we can find from the data protection notifications published by the ICO [ICO data controller register].
– the public paid for it so public has a right to it: the public presumably paid for it through their taxes. Companies that use open public data that don’t fully and fairly participate in the tax regime of the country that produced the data then they didn’t pay their fair share for access to it.
– data quality will improve: with open license conditions that allow users to take open (public) data and do what they want with it without the requirement to make derived data available in a bulk form under an open data license, how does the closed bit of the feedback loop work? I’ve looked at a lot of open public data releases on council and government websites and seen some companies making use of that data in presumably a cleaned form (if it hasn’t been cleaned, then they’re working with a lot of noise…) But if they have cleaned and normalised the data, have they provided this back ion an open form to the public body that gifted them access to it? Is there an open data quality improvement cycle working there? Erm… no… I suspect if anything, the open data users would try to sell the improved quality data back to the publisher. This may be their sole business model, or it may be a spin-off as a result of using the (cleaned and normalised) data fro some other commercial purpose.