number of attempts to make this data public - typically under some form of open data initiative. The general idea, of course, is that once people can start messing with this data, they can come up with all sorts of relevant and fun uses. For an example, check out what the good people in California have done, and in particularly, the remarkably cool Explore California mashup...
While their heart may be in the right place, politics usually ends up causing chaos - and when I say politics, I actually mean national security. You'd be surprised at how much stuff is considered 'dangerous'.
Rainfall! Terrorists could use it for an attack when there is a storm! Think of the children!
Movie plot threats can be very conducive to shutting down access to data - and it almost always is.
That said, Britain's latest attempt at re-packaging open data into a new 'Conservative' initiative seems to be somewhat plausible, and hopefully, one that'll succeed.
Some of the initiatives include (hat-tip Bobbie Johnson at GigaOm)
Increased health dataA raft of new initiatives including: better links between data sets for individual patients; new data release services to push information about healthcare from the NHS — Britain’s enormous public health system — to researchers and industry.
Increased transport dataFree availability of a range of real-time data covering the running of the rail network and bus infrastructure, plus regular data releases on local highway and road congestion
Access to weather dataBritain’s weather forecasting unit, the Met Office, will open up more of its public weather service data for free, in open formats, in what the government says will be “the largest volume of high quality weather data and information made available by a national meteorological organisation anywhere in the world”.
More housing dataThe national Land Registry, which keeps track of sales and land ownership, will release monthly data on residential home sales, including prices paid.The key, of course, is to see how much of this actually makes it through the system...