In the never-ending argument over which country is Number 1, the UK has just surpassed the US in one particular area: that of open data.

UK Public Data Treasure Trove

With, the UK now has 2,879 public data sets available through the web for developers to use. Compare this to the 1,074 available from the US government through

Resulting from the Power of Information Taskforce Report, the UK's sets include statistical data on adults who have participated in alcohol-related violent crimes, the blood-lead levels of workers in the UK who were exposed to lead, road congestion and even details on the impact of the economic downturn on participation and attendance to culture and leisure activities and events.

There are already 26 apps on the site that take advantage of the data, thanks to the 2,400 registered developers who were given access to a preview version of the site. Those who aren't developers can submit ideas for new applications or participate in the discussion forums.

Just One Step Toward More Open Government

When UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced the launch of the beta site, he stated that it was his country's ambition to be one of the first governments in the world to open public information in an accessible manner.

"As well as providing opportunities for business," he stated, this increased transparency and accountability will enable citizens to compare local services, lobby for improvements, choose providers and demand changes in service delivery -- with the web as a powerful new tool for sharing customer experience."

The overall strategy the UK is taking is outlined further in Putting the Frontline First: Smarter Government.