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Monday 28th May 2012 | 09:13
It doesn't capture the headlines, but the Coalition has overseen something of a quiet revolution in its open publication of data.
Every week there seems to be some unsung breakthrough and here's the latest: the Government has started releasing some of the postcode data for signatures on its ePetitions website.
That may not sound sexy to anyone other than a tech-head, but the implications for politics and policy are potentially profound.
Using the example of the 'rioters should lose their benefits' petition (the biggest on the site), our Dods/PolHome web guru Richard Parsons has made a heatmap of signatures over the mainland UK and then overlayed Westminster constituencies on top of it.
You can zoom into any area and check it out. One of the interesting findings is that some of the areas of worst rioting have the strongest support for a crackdown.
The potential of this kind of data is intriguing: we can image near real-time tracking of public opinion on issues on a national, local and hyper-local level. It is of great value for both lobbyists and for political parties who want to harness the voters' mood.
This postcode jackpot for politicos could be of the most important datasets the Government has ever released.
Signatures data from the Government Digital Service ePetitions API.
Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2012.
Contains Royal Mail data © Royal Mail copyright and database right 2012.
Contains National Statistics data © Crown copyright and database right 2012.
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