Supporting datasets to be made open
While developing AutoSwap and Bills Box we came across areas where new open data infrastructure would be required to make them a reality. Much of this data already exists, but isn't yet accessible for public consumption.
Register of service providers
AutoSwap demonstrated combining personal location history with information about signal strength. Similarly, Bills Box imagined a world in which bills from different utility providers could be combined in one place.
Both scenarios would benefit from a canonical register of telecoms and other utilities providers, so that data can be kept and updated in a single place.
Register of cell tower locations
AutoSwap demonstrated combining personal location history with information about signal strength.
Measuring and modelling signal strength requires good quality information about the location, technology and owner of cell towers.
Product and service information
Building a service like AutoSwap requires a lot of information about the different product offerings. If every service was available as a standardised data format, it would make it far simpler and cheaper for comparison services to search among a larger pool of services, including many smaller offerings. This would have a positive effect on forces of competition.
Without such a dataset, there's a high barrier to entry for comparison services and the cost of maintaining their own database means they're likely to exclude smaller, less popular companies.
We encountered a number of different types of product data that could be included in open datasets:
- Product features such as bundled services, accompanying TV packages, access to streaming services and more.
- Supported payment methods including direct debit, paypoint, credit card, paypal and bitcoin
- Credit and identity check requirements
- Terms and conditions
- Privacy policies
Technical information by postcode
To allow consumers to make informed decisions about the companies they choose, they need access to more information. Simplistic claims like 'up to 50 megabytes' don't mean much and can be tested against existing high-granularity data such as:
- Broadband technology availability, for example fibre, cable or ADSL
- Theoretical broadband speeds by postcode
- Realtime and historical line faults
- Actual (measured) network performance for different providers
- Actual (measured) signal strength for different networks
Crowdsourcing efforts such as OpenSignal demonstrate there is a need for this sort of data.