One of the key challenges for a junior minister is finding the areas in your brief where a mastery of the detail can make a difference to the direction of travel a particular policy is taking.
I’m halfway through “The Power of Information” report by Ed Mayo and Tom Steinberg – a fascinating look at how public information can be presented in a way that makes life just that little bit easier and gets things to work just that little bit better. As the authors say:
“When enough people can collect, re-use and distribute public sector information, people organise around it in new ways, creating new enterprises and new communities. In each case, these are designed to offer new ways of solving old problems. In the past, only large companies, government or universities were able to re-use and recombine information. Now, the ability to mix and ‘mash’ data is far more widely available.”
An example of this is My Society’s travel time maps. Transport time and mapping data has been “mixed and mashed” to help people work out their commute times. It’s an example of how a bit of thinking from the hive using freely available public sector data can make life just that little bit better.
It also proves beyond doubt that if you want to commute to Westminster in under 45 minutes and live in a relatively cheap flat, move to Deptford.
I still have a lot more reading to do but if you have an interest in this field, I’d be delighted to hear your views.