The new web site was criticised for many reasons, including for falling over on the first day and costing £300,000 (£120,000 for "detailed mock-ups of the system").

Well, adding to the list of criticisms, the publication of the data (the only thing that was actually needed to be done) hasn't been done in a way that makes the data easily useful by developers. 'Usefuliser' (working title) attempts to fix these problems.


One file per force, per month

Each month a new file per force is created. Anyone wanting to work on the data over time or find the total number of crimes in one area would have to aggregate the files (ok, this isn't hard, but it's boot strapping that needn't be done)

Usefuliser dones 2 things:

1) Creates a single file with all data form all forces and adds a 'force_id' and data column. Force IDs are defined by Usefuliser, as there is no public equivalent

2) Creates a file per force for all published data

No unique IDs

In the published data there are no IDs for each row of data. Good (essential?) database design says you need a primary key for your data. Usefuliser Adds an ID (created –for want of something better– from the line number and the date) to each line of the data, meaning that any 3rd party has a solid unique ID to work with.

This also enables 3rd party apps to cross link to each other —€“ something that could be very useful.


The data contains obscured location data for each row of street level data. This is in the 'OSGB' northing and easting format. A lot of online services (notably google maps) use the WGS84 latitude and longitude format.

Usefuliser keeps OSGB and adds lat/long columns.


In future an open hosted API will be provided, saving developers waiting three days for the contractor to manually give them permission to access their API.

Ideas for taking this project forward

I need to deploy the site properly and make sure everything can run off a cron task.

Also, I need to make the API.

This will take a few days to get really nice.

Estimated costs for taking this project forward

£300,000, but I'll accept offers.

About the data used for this project

Project URL:

Twitter: @symroe

Created at

National Hack the Government Day 2011

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