The strategists say that open data from high quality APIs has the potential to transform public services. One example where this is proving to be the case is legislation.gov.uk, the official UK legislation website, operated by The National Archives.
With legislation.gov.uk we aimed to open-up access to the government’s legislation database, by creating an API first. The legislation.gov.uk API allows anyone to access the data we hold in the database, or to use the services we have built. We wanted to show that government could create a high-quality, technically sophisticated API, following the principles of both REST and Linked Data. We also wanted our API to be fully open, with no restrictions on use, and no need to register before using it.
The API is enabling us to develop an entirely new approach to updating legislation, inspired by the open source software movement – our Expert Participation Programme. We are inviting people from outside The National Archives to work with us, to apply changes to the legislation in the database. Quality is maintained through our editorial practice and a stringent process of review. This is an exciting new operating model for maintaining open government data.
John Sheridan is Head of Legislation at The National Archives. His academic background is in Computer Science and Information Technology. John is passionate about open data and the possibilities afforded by using Linked Data standards, particularly to public sector information. He is a former co-chair of the W3 e-Government Interest Group.
Jeni Tennison is the technical director of the Open Data Institute. As a developer, Jeni specializes in open data publishing and consumption, including XML, JSON and linked data APIs. She trained as a knowledge engineer and holds a PhD in collaborative ontology development. Jeni was the technical architect and lead developer for legislation.gov.uk and worked on the linked data aspects of data.gov.uk. Jeni is author of several technical books and was appointed to the W3C’s Technical Architecture group in 2011. She is also a member of the Open Data user group and the UK Government Linked Data group.
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