We’ve recently published a report on fragmented data and local councils’ climate action. Download it here.
At all levels of government, and across the UK, there is growing recognition of the importance of local government in achieving the UK’s climate commitments. From this, there is a growing need to understand the impact of the interventions taking place at a local authority level, and as such, there are growing calls from central government and civil society for more climate data publishing.
We recognise that these calls for more data do not always take into account the resources needed from within authorities to prepare this data, nor how make the data useful to the authorities that published it in the first place.
More data publishing makes the climate data ecosystem richer, but smarter data publishing makes it more useful. If we replicate the history of previous central mandates to publish information, we will repeat mistakes that found local authorities using limited resources to put out data in ways that are far too costly to bring together and build upon.
We call this problem fragmented public data, and believe that a little bit more coordination and central support can supercharge the value of the data that local government produces. We need better tools and a better understanding of the skills and resources available to council staff. A realistic analysis of resource limitations of local government, and working with council staff who produce the data, will create more useful results, than a ‘best practice’ that requires obstructively high levels of technical skill.
Central government has a role in providing more than an edict to publish: it must offer the support and resources to facilitate cooperation and publication of data spread over hundreds of local authorities. Net zero data publication does not have to be a burden. Together, civil society, central and local governments can come together to create a data ecosystem that is greater than the sum of its parts. To build that ecosystem, we propose the following key principles:
- A collaborative (but compulsory) data standard to agree the data and format that is expected.
- A central repository of the location of the published data, which is kept up to date with new releases of data.
- Support from a data convener to make publication simple – such as, through validation and publication tools, coordinating data submissions, and technical support.
- Read the full report written by mySociety and the Centre for Public Data
- Sign up for our climate newsletter
- Contact Julia, our Policy and Advocacy Manager, to see how to implement our recommendations in your local area