Unlocking information to open up government and make it more accessible to citizens is an initiative that is rapidly gaining momentum. http://data.gov.uk is where to got to see how quickly software developers and individual citizens are making innovative use of the increasing volume of public sector datasets to produce a fascinating selection of free apps.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) publish an RSS feed of the Travel Advisory service – a data stream of important content on all of the locations that the UK Government has presence, with data ranging from what to do if your passport is lost/stolen through to up to date advice for travellers based on local conditions (extreme weather, civil unrest, significant local events etc).

Microsoft contacted one of our partners – AWS, to help take that data and publish it in the cloud as an open data API that enables any developer on any platform to consume and make use of it. AWS then worked with GapYear.com to deliver a mobile application that would combine their socially connected services, with this authoritative information from the FCO to deliver a location aware, resource for travellers.

The Travel Advisor application is now available as a free download in the Windows Phone Marketplace.

Hosting datasets in the cloud is a trend that is set to grow as, in addition to this example with the FCO, Transport for London has also chosen the Windows Azure Cloud platform to host travel datasets. The Developers' Area contains TfL's data feeds and allows developers to create applications for mobile and other devices for use by the public. Feeds available include information on the location of cycle hire docking stations, timetable data and real time traffic and roadworks information along the entire TfL transport network in and around London.

Posted by Ian