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The Power of Information - An independent review by Ed Mayo and Tom Steinberg


See Tom's post here about the review and the Government's response to the review here


The  best way to explain the power of information work is to demonstrate it in action.  This wiki is simply a rolling list of sites that illustrate some of the principles of the power of information: people reusing public information in new ways and people coming together in online communities to help each other with a public purpose.


For links about trading funds please see Trading Funds.


Re-using public information



Superb site pulling together many farm subsidy data from the EU to present in a clear and transparent way who gets our farm money.  Farmsubsidy.org uses freedom of information law to force European governments to release detailed data on who gets what from Europe's €55 billion Common Agricultural Policy.  It then makes this data available in an online database on this website. The data released is highly variable both in quality and completeness.  Some countries have refused to release any data.



Compare what the Whitehouse, the UN and Downing Street Say



iQuango.org looks at what International Quasi-Autonomous Non-Governmental Organisations are doing and saying. They look at what Quango's are doing everywhere, and see what they can do to have one big picture. For example, Does the IMF or World Bank say something different about a topic or country than the Red Cross?



A cheeky search comparison tool between the DirectGov search took and Google - search more than 6 million pages of UK government info, instantly! Using direct.gov.uk and Google search



A rework of the daily posts of the UK prime ministers official spokesman.  Makes the information far more accesible than the official site.

Downing Street Says... is an unofficial site that lets you read summaries of Prime Minister's Spokesman's daily briefings with a small group of political journalists. You may add your own comments.  Arguably the first government Web 2.0 mashup dating from Spring 2004 - does anyone know of any earlier ones?



Brings transaprency to voting patterns of uk parliamentarians with some clever graphics



The daddy of web2.0 democracy sites - remarkable reworking of the UK Hansard information



To find out everything you could want to know about an area - from actual property prices to the neighbourhood's favourite newspaper - enter a location in the required box and start browsing.



The BBCs API and experimentatino area - allowing people to reuse bbc data backstage.bbc.co.uk is a pilot for open innovation, and was announced in the BBC's response to the Graf Review of BBC Online: backstage.bbc.co.uk will provide data, resources and support for users who wish to build prototypes and proofs of concepts using BBC material. BBC encourages people both inside and outside the BBC to share knowledge, ideas & prototypes with each other. 



This site has nothing to do with the real UN website or any part of the United Nations itself. It is a private attempt to provide Web 2.0 compliant access to many of the important official UN documents (eg Security Council Resolutions and General Assembly votes) which feature in the news.



UCL-created google maps mashup of london crime, census, house price data etc etc.


http://www.commentonthis.com/  unique site that repurposes public documents so that the individual pargraphs can be commented upon


Communities - professionals solving problems



Benefits advisors from all over the UK exchange hints and tips on how to help anonymous clients and weave a way through the uk benefits system



History teachers unite to exchange information, tips etc



UK school governors unite to exchange information, hints, tips etc - an unexpected side effect of the official site run by DCFS was to create this far better site run by governors themselves.



m'learned friends in a candid information exchange.  This site provides an online resource to UK criminal solicitors and includes a forum area to discuss the ever changing world of criminal law, and criminal contracting.



A practicing community of 65,000 physicians who exchange clinical insights, observations, and review cases in real time


http://managerdiary.blogware.com/blog Wonderful, wholly unlikley blog by the manager of a crematorium


http://arrse.co.uk The Army Rumour Service is the unofficial British Army community website - it covers a wide range of material, from how to break assault boots in to all sorts of esoteric stuff


Platoon Leader Platoon Leader - an American site and professional forum. PL connects leaders IN the experience to leaders WITH the experience, and enables future platoon leaders to PREPARE to lead more effectively. Also profiled in this excellent New Yorker article about the use of the net to help professionals.


TES Teachers Classroom The TES website offers in depth teaching news, teaching & educational resources as well as many active forums - all to help UK teachers.


Communities - public service 'co-operatives'


Education, families, young people



The Student Room is a huge, superb student discussion forum, where students share academic and social knowledge and experience. They help with the big decisions and the fun stuff.



Patient Opinion is all about enabling patients to share their experiences of health care, and by doing so help other patients. As well as allowing everyone to see what patients are saying about their services, it also offers a way to feed the experience of patients back to the NHS so that their insights and ideas can be put to good use.


http://www.netmums.com - Is a social network connecting parent locally and nationally, offering a wealth of general information, local listings, onlne support and a chance to meet local mums


Mumsnet - Mumsnet is a UK-wide meeting point for parents for wide ranging discussions. 


The Site TheSite puts you in direct contact with expert advisors across a range of topics.


http://www.raisingkids.co.uk/talk/default.asp another advice site for parents


Younglivin’ A Kingston project providing young people online advice across a broad range of personal and social issues. Content is moderated four times a year by local young focus groups. Provides contact with social services.


Get Connected A helpline and webchat service for young people, offering confidential advice and support for under 25’s to make their own decisions about how to deal with problems


Greatschools GreatSchools, a US-based intiative, helps parents choose the best school by providing comprehensive profiles for more than 120,000 schools nationwide.  Parent-friendly features include exclusive ratings, parent reviews, powerful search and compare tools, and helpful advice.


http://www.wikivorce.com/divorce/ a wiki on getting divorced







Cancer e-Atlas A map of the UK showing Cancer outcomes by region, allowing quick intuitive comparisons to be made about the relative quality of care.  It is created by the Association of Public Health Observatories (APHO) and the UK Association of Cancer Registries (UKACR).


Revolution Health From AOL co-founder Steve Case. Online communities and web 2.0 tools for health. Some commerical content but exciting ideas,


Mihealth is a personal information and healthcare organiser that provides easy access to high quality information and support and a range of resources supporting patients' self management & care.


fertility friends provides advice and information on female and male fertility and infertility


Julie’s Joint  provides friendship, support & inspiration for people with Multiple Sclerosis


BestTreatments provides information on treatments which work and don't work, based on up-to-date medical research. BMJ BestTreatments also rates thousands of health and medical treatments, based on how well they work.


Healthboards Connecting with others who are going through the same medical condition can make a difference. HealthBoards.com is a place where you can make those connections with people dealing with a similar medical condition. They provide a peer support community with over150 message boards on various diseases, conditions, and health topics. And through a partnership with WebMD, they provide a comprehensive Health Guide with health information and tools for managing your health. To participate in the boards, you'll need to register, it's free, quick, and easy. 


Contact a Family Contact a Family is the only UK-wide charity providing advice, information and support to the parents of all disabled children - no matter what their disability or health condition. They also enable parents to get in contact with other families, both on a local and national basis. Each year they reach at least 275,000 families.


www.connectingforcare.co.uk is a website bringing together carers to share their ideas, thoughts and top tips. It is is a collaborative effort between Intel, Counsel and Care, the Princess Royal Trust for Carers and the Queen's Nursing Institute. It launched on 13 June so is currently quite bare.


Who is sick emphasis on mutual self help and support


http://www.deafforum.co.uk/index.php?act=idx for people who have hearing disabilities


http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/ uk consumers unite


http://www.deafvideo.tv/ Youtube for the deaf community. 


http://www.ableize.com/forum/index.phpUK online disability discussion forum


Communities - regional or local


http://www.sheffieldforum.co.uk/showthread.php?t=231115 a huge City forum, here with a link to a page on response to flooding


http://www.ukvillages.co.uk UK Villages - many thousands of local comunities online


BigBarn A virtual farmers’ market with an interactive map highlighting local food producers and providing postcode-specific news and offer


London21 Green Map Use the map to search for green events and organisations in your area and to view what's going on in wider London


City Wildlife  Very looking site run by Brighton council. A web-based project that enables local residents to record their observations about the local environment, improving record keeping and raising awareness of local conservation issues.


The Freecycle Network made up of many individual groups across the globe. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own town




New River Village  small scale but good example of a residents association having an online forum that involves residents who otherwise probably wouldn’t talk to each other and so helps build social capital


http://www.noiseabatementsociety.com/forum/index.php information for people struggling with noise issues in their neighbourhood



Environment Agency Maps Very useful EA site where you can find out information maps about flood plains, or local sources of polution.


MAGIC Interactive Map An interactive map of the UK that brings togther information on environmental schemes being run by different public sector agencies, facilitating access to rural and environmental management information.


Hackney GIS A corporate geographic information system that provides useful environmental, economic and social information for both the local authority and the public


www.winterhighland.com  Winter sports site focused around outdoor enthusiasts who live and enjoy the leisure opportunities of highland Scotland, the Lakes and Pennines. Aside from discussing the sports there are well formed debates around tourism and environmental policy, rural issues, development subsidies to projects in remote areas. volunteering,  media bias etc.  Look in Forum for the debates. Interesting to note that the self-generated weather forecasts, snow reports, and webcam pics offer a better service than that funded by the official Scottish tourism body.


Transport and Geography


Speedcameramap Google maps + speed cameras


The man in Seat 61 officially the best train website anywhere


Skyscrapercity People talking about skyscrapers


OS Openspace Ordnance Survey's own API to reuse their data


Platial “Now Anyone Can Map Just About Anything: Places, People, Video, Photos, Stories, Feeds and put it all on your blog or website!"


Frappr “Frappr. The most social maps on the Web.”


Google Green Summer of Green – Google Mash up Google has launched its first mashup — a map-based Web site with information about earth-friendly locations in five of the US’s top travel destinations. The site, at maps.google.com/green, features information on and video tours of spots in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York and Orlando, Florida, as well as tips for “travelling green” during the summer using Google Maps.


Walkscore A fantastic site that shows how managable a location is by foot on a google map. Demostrates the power of simple postcode information and an address book.




http://www.redbridge.gov.uk/ outstanding use of web2 techniques for a government website






http://brugerinformation.dk/citizen/levelselection/levelSelection.faces A government mashup of school address data. Due to the inaccuracy of google maps it is not 100% accurate and school locations can be 1 or 2 buildings out. Good example of how a different visualisation technique can make data more accessible.


Commercial sites


Craig’s List


Gumtree  A bit like Craig’s List for London. Very Popular. Very Good.  “Gumtree.com was started in March 2000 as a local London classified ads and community site, designed to connect people who were either planning to move, or had just arrived in the city, and needed help getting started with accommodation, employment and meeting new people.”


Moneysavingexpert Martin Lewis runs the site: “The aim is to help you save money on anything and everything by finding the best deals and beating the system.”

Joe Sunderland’s(SU) comment:”Unlike Money Supermarket, and other niche review/customer advisory services (like uSwitch), Money Saving Expert spans both private and public sectors, providing pretty sound information and advice, much of which has been provided by consumers and private citizens (with chat forums). I used it recently to get a simple step-by-step guide to reviewing my Council Tax band, and have used it for information on banking, insurance and utilities in the past. Unlike industry ombudsmen, I think the benefit of such a website is its simplicity and its completeness (a bit of a one-stop-shop).”


Quidco “What if savvy consumers received referral commissions for their own informed shopping decisions? What if the referral commissions that fund so much spam were given to the informed consumer rather than the aggressive advertiser?”


Zillow Zillow.com is an online real estate service that allows people to get a quick free valuation for most homes in the US and then builds a specific webpage around it with data and maps and layered with publicly available information such as comparables and tax information.  It also allows owners and their agents to edit and add information, create their own estimates, upload photos, and post homes for sale.


Pricescope Consumer advocate site dedicated to consumer education about diamonds and diamond prices, loose diamonds and wholesale diamonds.



Other Examples


http://www.simoncross.com/music/bbcnowplaying/index.php?networkId=radio1 Amazing example of how a simple peice of relevant information can be turned into a dynamic content rich website.


http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/forums/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/2991797/an/0/page/0#2991797 - The Horse and Hound community is crowdsourcing a google map of horse resources. Where is your nearest tack shop? Where are the vets near you? Is there any racing? Possibly one of the strongest arguments yet that the technology is becoming mainstream.

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