The Observer’s Facebook revelations reignited debates about ownership of our details. But while we seek privacy in parts of our digital life, open data elsewhere could be a force for good
In March 2007, Nick Pearce was running the thinktank the Institute for Public Policy Research. That month, one of his young interns, Amelia Zollner, was killed by a lorry while cycling in London. Amelia was a bright, energetic Cambridge graduate, who worked at University College London. She was waiting at traffic lights when a lorry crushed her against a fence and dragged her under its wheels.
Two years later, in March 2009, Pearce was head of prime minister Gordon Brown’s Number 10 policy unit. He had not forgotten Amelia and wondered to a colleague if the publication of raw data on bicycle accidents would help. Perhaps someone might then build a website that would help cyclists stay safe?