18 Sir Tim Berners Lee www w3c

The government has taken the wraps off a new website that promises to allow access to raw data from various government departments and that will allow third-party developers to create their own mash-ups of the raw data.

The website, data.gov.uk, has been developed under the guidance of worldwide web creator, Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt of Southampton University. It has been developed using semantic web principles, meaning that requests for information can be interpreted more accurately by websites.

Speaking to BBC News, Sir Tim said "Government data is something we have already spent the money on... and when it is sitting there on a disk in somebody's office it is wasted."

So far, data.gov.uk, which uses data supplied by the Office of National Statistics and is loosely based on the US government's own Data.gov website. Its launch follows hard on the announcement of the London Data Store by London mayor Boris Johnson.

A beta version of the site was launched back in September and has been modified after input from 2,400 developers. So far, 10 applications have been created for the site, including PlanningAlerts, a service that finds planning applications within local authorities, while another application, with uncomfortable resonances of John Major's cone hotline,allows people to report potholes and other road hazards across the UK.

This spring, however, data from the Ordnance Survey will be made available on the site and it's expected that there will be a gamut of applications exploiting this resource.

The site isn't just for software developers, it also contains an ideas page for anyone to suggest ways in which government data can be reused.

Bloggers have already voiced their support for the new site with Marshall Kirkpatrick on the ReadWriteWeb blog comparing the UK's efforts favourably compared to the US model