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LGA and Socitm call for open election data

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The Local Government Association and the Society of Information Technology Management (Socitm) are calling for local authorities to publish election information and results in an open format.

The two organisations said the Open Local Election Data Project, which has been developed as a guide for council web managers and developers, has been launched partly because there is no freely available national database of local election results.

The project is designed to encourage councils to publish election results on their websites in a particular way, so that the process of collecting the information for re-use can be automated.

Socitm said that this would allow media organisations, academics, think tanks, politicians, citizens and others to compile their own results database with minimal effort, as well as analyse the information, combine it with other data and publish the results.

Currently, Socitm says that anyone who wants to understand the national picture about the local elections on 6 May will need to compile information through a "laborious manual process involving finding, cutting and pasting information published by the 164 different councils running elections".

Making data available in this way is a relatively simple task, according to Socitm, involving the way in which code containing the information is marked up.

Jos Creese, the newly elected president of Socitm and head of IT at Hampshire County Council, said: "The momentum behind the 'open data' movement is gathering, and councils that get involved now, with this elections project, will put themselves at the cutting edge of this movement."

This article was originally published at Kable.

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