Lecture to hear calls to 'de-nationalise our data'

Open source data
22 Feb 2011 16:24:07.750
PA 59/11

A provocative public figure who has played an influential role in the shaping of much of the Conservative Party’s thinking on IT will be leading the charge to de-nationalise our data during a public lecture later this month.

Liam Maxwell, an outspoken councillor and lead on IT at the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, will deliver a talk on Government as a Service in the very first event from an open lecture series by Horizon Digital Economy Research at The University of Nottingham.

In his talk, Mr Maxwell will argue that the Government must go further than providing public access to centrally-held information but that the management and control of individuals’ personal data should be handed back to us as citizens.
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And, he will say, public access to such information could provide a lifeline to our ailing economy by offering businesses the chance to take advantage of such ‘open source’ data to develop exciting new prospects for enterprise opportunities, once issues relating to Freedom of Information and Data Protection legislation are resolved.

Mr Maxwell, who has a close association with the high-profile Centre for Policy Studies, has introduced a number of cutting-edge technologies at Windsor and Maidenhead to improve council performance and to ensure council services remain open and transparent to the people it serves. This has included the use of mapping tools as a way for members of the public within the borough to track council responsiveness to issues raised and the success of innovations such as these are being closely tracked by the major policy units at Downing Street.

Mr Maxwell recently published a provocative manifesto entitled It’s Ours: Why we, not Government, Must Own Our Data, which argues that the recent history of centralisation in the management and control of individuals’ personal data by government has been a failure. He believes that the programme adopted by successive governments is a waste of resources, creates projects that cannot be delivered and does not provide the quality of service that British citizens expect.

Instead, by allowing us to control our own data, it would introduce the flexibility, innovativeness and customer-focus currently found in the private sector where this approach is now widespread.

Horizon Digital Economy Research represents an initial £40million investment by Research Councils UK, The University of Nottingham and more than 100 academic and industrial partners in both a Research Hub and Doctoral Training Centre within the RCUK Digital Economy programme. Horizon brings together researchers with backgrounds in computer science, the geospatial sciences, engineering, psychology, sociology, business, social science, law and the arts to build an understanding of people and society in technology developments from the outset, and to ensure users benefit from these advances.

The Horizon Open Lecture Series will each feature a major public figure exploring a key issue for the digital economy in a lively and provocative way. The series aims to help raise public awareness of the social, political and ethical issues which surround the development of the digital economy.

Liam Maxwell will deliver his lecture on Government as a Service on Monday March 7 at 6pm at the Sir Colin Campbell Building on The University of Nottingham Innovation Park. People wishing to attend can register at www.horizon.ac.uk/resources/event-registration.html

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Notes to editors:

Liam Maxwell is a councillor and the Lead Member for Policy and Performance at the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, where his brief includes information technology. His background is as an IT Director in Fortune 500 and FTSE 100 business service companies. He is the author of How the Internet Took Obama Back to the 1950s (Centre for Policy Studies, 2008) and co-author, with Mark Thompson, of Open Source, Open Standards: Reforming IT Procurement in Government, a Report for the Conservative Party,2008.

The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘Europe’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking, a league table of the world’s most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions, which ranked Nottingham second in the world overall.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power. The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.

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More information is available from Dr Sophie Dale, Horizon Operations Manager, on +44 (0)115 8468923, horizon@nottingham.ac.uk

Emma Thorne Emma Thorne - Media Relations Manager

Email: emma.thorne@nottingham.ac.uk Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5793 Location: University Park

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