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Berners-Lee: Open data a ‘crucial tool’ during tough times

Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt may have been gracious about the loss of funding for the Institute of Web Science but they are fighting to keep the open data dream alive.

Open data

The Government may have cut funding for the Institute of Web Science yesterday, but its creators are determined to keep their open data project afloat.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee and his colleague Professor Nigel Shadbolt have made a joint statement expressing their disappointment at the death of funding for the institute at Southampton University and claimed the "future remains bright" for the project.

They are now focusing their attention of the survival of their open data venture a website publishing a huge variety of Government data to keep us in the know which they claim is a "crucial tool" during times when the public purse is strained.

In a joint statement, the two academics claimed the project was set for a boost.

"Linked data and the new technologies supporting it will, in the near future, enable better public services to be delivered for less, and promote new business opportunities," they said.

"The government is maintaining its commitment to the linked data it has already published [via the data.gov.uk portal] and to the very large amount which remains to be published."

The pair claimed the website will "grow significantly in the months to come" and that it has already begun encouraging Government's around the world to create something similar data.gov in the US for example but admitted it is still in its early days and "much more [was] yet to be done."

"As we enter a phase of cutting back on many things, the linked open data movement is a crucial tool, for government, public and industry to get the most value from the important resources being opened up," they concluded.

"During times of austerity, transparency is essential, and open data will play a crucial role."

This week saw the new Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Laws outline plans for spending cuts totaling 6.2 billion across the public sector, 95 million of which is to be targeted at IT.

In addition to the Institute for Web Science getting the chop, Becta the IT in education quango was another victim. A full breakdown of where the cuts are hitting has not been released from the Government as yet.

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