A new weblog has been started by Anna Powell-Smith, called Missing Numbers:

Missing Numbers is a blog about the data that the government should collect and measure in the UK, but doesn’t.

I expect that whatever she finds in missing data within the UK public sector, similar or matching examples can be found in other countries, such as here in the Netherlands.

One such Dutch example are the election results per candidate per polling station. The election council (Kiesraad) that certifies election results only needs the aggregated results per municipality, and that is what it keeps track of. Local governments of course have this data immediately after counting the votes, but after providing that data to the Kiesraad their role is finished.

The Open State Foundation (disclosure: I’m its current chairman of the board) in recent years has worked towards ensuring results per polling station are available as open data. In the recent provincial and water authority elections the Minister for the Interior called upon municipalities to publish these results as machine readable data. About 25% complied, the other data files were requested by the Open State Foundation in collaboration with national media to get to a complete data set. This way for the first time, this data now exists as a national data set, and is available to the public.

Viz of all polling station results of the recent elections by the Volkskrant national paper

Added Missing Numbers to my feedreader.

6 reactions on “Missing Numbers, the Gaps in Government Data

  1. I was interested this week in understanding more about electric vehicle adoption on Prince Edward Island. While at one point this would have been difficult to extract from vehicle registrations, because you’d need to know all the makes and models that are electric, regulatory changes last year mean that electric vehicles now have the annual registration fee waived, making them much easier to track.

    I emailed the Registrar of Motor Vehicles about this on Monday, and his reply was “That is a good idea and I can see about adding to this to open data.”

    He followed up a few hours later to tell me that the formal request had been made, and I look forward to seeing this in the PEI Open Data Portal (https://data.princeedwardisland.ca/) soon.

    As public servants become tuned in to the benefits of open data, sometimes all it takes is to ask!

    (There’s already some interesting open data about vehicles on PEI in the open data collection, like vehicle registrations since 1918 at https://data.princeedwardisland.ca/Transportation/Chart-of-Motor-Vehicle-Registrations-from-1918/qy57-tgse)

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