Twenty five years ago Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, establishing a way for everyone to communicate, collaborate and innovate freely.

Boy woks with laptop

Over the years internet information providers continue to improve the way they publish their information. Industry standards are being adopted so files that previously had data locked-up within them are becoming open data, allowing users to share, use and/or reuse the data free of charge.

To help us understand the different levels of data publication, I’ve taken information from a range of sources to build on Sir Tim Berners-Lee 5 star deployment scheme, which is presented in the table below.

Data publication standards

Star Description Benefits
Data is made available on the Web in any format, an example may be a scanned image or PDF. With these documents it’s hard to get the data out without writing a custom scraper report, which requires technical expertise. Information is accessible on the Web under an open license (such as OGL, PDDL, ODC by or CC0).
★★ Data is made available as machine-readable structured data (e.g. Microsoft Excel instead of a scanned image of a table) The data is accessible on the Web in a structured way, allowing you to process it with proprietary software or export it into another (structured) format.
★★★ Data is made available in an open non-proprietary format (e.g. CSV and XML instead of Microsoft Excel). The data is easily accessible via the Web allowing you to manipulate it in any way you like.
★★★★ In addition to using open formats, this data uses Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) to identify things, it also uses open standards and recommendations from W3C. The most important data items have a URL allowing you to link to it from other places on the Web or locally. By linking to other relevant data, which may not otherwise be connected, you improve discoverability through other embedded links.
★★★★★ This data uses open formats and URLs, in addition it is linked to other data to provide greater insight. A 5* dataset creates added value by connecting directly to other data, allowing users to discover, use and reuse it in new ways that weren’t originally intended. This allows data errors to be highlighted and corrected much faster than before. In addition new merged datasets open up new opportunities for innovation.

As governments, organisations, businesses and citizens make open data available, the way we access, use and share it is transforming. At the heart of the Government’s Transparency Agenda is the premise that open data can unlock latent value and so stimulate innovation.

Anyone who has used open data to analyse and/or visualise information will probably agree, as greater insight creates opportunities to influence decision-making. When open data becomes linked data, information that was once isolated in a file can be quickly discovered and linked to other data, opening up the way for more social and business innovation.

The author of the recent Joining the dots blog said “Linked Data has the power to deliver a web of information, deeply interconnected and rich in context. It heralds a not-too-distant future where data is not just clumps of zeros and ones parked somewhere in a spreadsheet, but a sea of meaningful connections ready to be used – like the experience you already have when searching Google, but much more powerful.”

At Land Registry we regularly review our data to determine where and when improvements can be made. Three datasets are currently published as open linked data on GOV.UK.

Land Registry’s open linked datasets

Star Description
★★★★★ House Price Index Background Tables: available from 1995These tables contain the data behind the House Price Index (HPI) monthly statistics.
★★★★ Price Paid Data: available from January 1995This dataset contains details of residential properties sold for full market value.
★★★★ Transaction Data: available from January 2012This data contains information about how many applications have been completed.

If you have any questions regarding our data or would like to share your feedback, we would encourage you to contact us at DataEnquiries@landregistry.gov.uk.


Jackie Lynch
By Jackie Lynch,
Senior Communications Officer at HM Land Registry