Page last updated at 17:34 GMT, Monday, 10 November 2008

Websites set government data free

Show us a better way screen shot
More than 450 people entered the website design contest

The UK government has announced the winner of a website design contest.

"Show Us a Better Way" asked for ideas that would give the public better access to public information.

The finalists included ideas for a map site showing school catchment areas and a service telling people where to find the nearest public toilet.

More than 450 people entered the design contest, with the overall winner being "Can I Recycle It?" - where people can find out what they can recycle locally.

Cash prize

The contest was inspired by successful non-government websites such as FixMyStreet, which allows people to report problems, such as fly tipping, to their local council.

The contest attracted hundreds of entries, all competing for a share of an 80,000 prize and help with future development.

There is also a 20,000 prize to be shared among five websites that already have prototypes up and running, such as the UK Wreck Map, which shows the location of shipwrecks around Britain's coast.

The winners will be chosen by the independent Power of Information Task Force, chaired by the former Liberal Democrat MP Richard Allan.

"By trusting the public and throwing it open to them to put forward their ideas, the solutions are of real, practical use," said cabinet office minister Tom Watson MP, who spearheaded the competition.

"Ultimately, this is about building something from the bottom up, rather than having Whitehall dictate from the centre."

The contest website points developers to free sources of public information, such as the locations of NHS services, Ordnance Survey maps, and address data from the Royal Mail.

The organisers stress that no private information is involved in the competition.

"This is not about personal information at all," wrote the organisers on the contest website. "It is about the non-personal information that is publically available or publically owned... It is about data such as where a school is - not who goes there; what can be done to tackle diabetes - not who has it."

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