Richard Allan – The Power of Information

About a week ago, shortly after the public launch of OpenAustralia, we were contacted by Richard Allan, who has been involved with TheyWorkForYou over a number of years. He used to be a UK Member of Parliament with a strong interest in technology issues.

While he was an MP, he even wrote the first version of the email alerts system for TheyWorkForYou.

He now works for Cisco UK in the area of technology policy issues. He has a lot of dealings with European governments in the area of telecoms legislation and the like.

He also chairs a UK Task Force called Power of Information which was established by the Cabinet Office Minister Tom Watson MP in March 2008 which is about opening up government information in all of its various forms.

In a very nice coincidence he was coming on a visit to Australia to speak at a conference in Brisbane and meet politicians and government officials in Sydney and Canberra.

Yesterday night he took time out from his busy schedule to meet Kat and myself for dinner in Sydney. We talked about a lot of things including his dealings with people from MySociety, his plans for telling people about OpenAustralia and his work with Cisco and the Power of Information Task Force.

OpenAustralia is a good example of what is possible by opening up information. Because the Parliament website publishes the Hansard daily online we can take that and effectively repackage it into something that is more engaging and more oriented to how actually people want to read and interact with this information.

For his meetings with Australian government officials and politicians next week he can now use as a case study to show what people, just ordinary, but technologically capable people, can build on their own without waiting for the government to do it for them.

We had a really interesting conversation over dinner with Richard. We certainly learned a great deal. We also hope that he will be one of the many people to help OpenAustralia grow and become more popular over the coming months and years.

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