The CES Government event is part of the CES event which is held in Las Vegas every year and has always premièred new technology for government use. This year a offshoot event was held in London, UK for the first time which gave our own government a chance to showcase their latest technological advancements. The UK even had numerous speakers from the US from world famous institutions and agencies such as NASA and for the UK we had our very own Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London. For those of you who are not from the UK you may not have encountered Boris before, he is a bit of an idiot - an amusing one. Boris has a tendency to say the wrong things and is often said to be out of touch with what the people of London think which is always fun.
As a major boon to Open Data it was announced by the Mayor that City Hall will be opening up a massive amount of previously unavailable data for people to use free of charge. This data will mean that application developers can use it to create richer hyper-local experiences and can also use this information to produce applications commercially.
The Datastore will contain over 200 different sets of information and will be fully open for business on 29 January.
I'm assuming there will be some sort of licensing procedure for this information, but the people of London are likely to see a sudden influx of mobile and web applications using this newly available data when it is released at the end of this month.
The superb new London "Datastore" will unleash valuable facts and figures that been languishing for far too long in the deepest recesses of City Hall. I firmly believe that access to information should not just be the preserve of institutions and a limited elite. Data belongs to the people particularly that held by the public sector and getting hold of it should not involve a complex routine of jumping through a series of ever decreasing hoops.
With this announcement came the revelation that some data is already available in a "prototype" form on data.london.gov.uk which already has a fair amount of data added. For example if you're interested in Census results for 2001 you could visit the "demographics" category and available there is information broken down into various categories for each area / ward as XML and CSV making it easy to consume for other sites and/or applications. It's not just data consumption that data provided in these open formats can be used for - with the available data you can also utilise it as research for your own articles. For example, if you were running an article on alcohol related accidents you could get accurate figures from the site also.
There is also the 4iP (4 Innovation for the Public) scheme which aims to get publicly available data available in digital formats to make the information more accessible. This also extends into other areas such as games, etc.
Having not been able to attend CES Government 2010 myself I'd be interested to hear your views, and any other information you may have about the event. So feel free to have your say in the comment section!