The people we employ to run the country have decided to make a lot of the data they collect on our behalf freely available at Data.gov.uk. This data by itself is of limited use, however when combined with in house data in a business or academic institution and plotted on to a map then it becomes quite powerful.
And that power can be good or bad. If you are trying to sell your house on line and I notice that car theft and muggings in your area are twice as high as the national average that might influence my decision to purchase. On the other hand this lets the buyer know more about the are they are moving into e.g. quality of schools healthcare etc.
Fortunately there’s no personal data on there, but the data is in quite a lot of different formats and this site is just a collection of URLs to the various agencies and NGO’s that have the source data, some of which want to give you a pdf document!
These data sets typically don’t have geospatial coordinates in them them but there are some reference data sets which do have this and keys to such things as local authority boundaries. So to get your own solution working you’ll have to find out which one to use to join to the data sets you want to plot and compare.
It is a start and there is a forum capability where you can post questions and make suggestions, and there’s also a developer section to support and encourage applications around the data.
All I need now is a quiet moment to explore it in a bit more details and have a go!