How To Use Public Data To Drive Innovation
Back in October 2011, Neelie Kroes – VP of the European Commission, announced legal proposals to unlock the data held by the Europe’s public institutions. According to Kroes, opening up these datasets could double the value of it to around € 70 billion. The open data portal is all about transparency, open government and innovation. All available data can be re-used, linked, analysed and visualized for personal or commercial use. This is a major step forward as it can drive innovation and create new (business) opportunities.
Luckily, the European Union is not the only one opening the massive amount of datasets for the public. More and more governments around the world are making their public data sets available for free to the public. The Dutch Government for example has also developed a portal where open data sets that are funded by public means can be used for free by anyone. The Dutch Government actively pushes local authorities and departments to share their open datasets on this portal in order to stimulate innovation and business opportunities, which in the end could also lead to a more efficient government as well a more transparent government.
Logica Business Consulting developed a case study to create a better supply and distribution process for open data. The report describes different case studies of how governments from around the world are using and sharing open data. The four countries included in the study (USA, UK, Canada & New-Zealand) all have the equivalent of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that obliges governments to open data if requested. The report describes several lessons learned by these countries while opening up their data for the public. The motivations for governments to start opening up their data differ per county but in general they include increased transparency, stimulation of economic growth, improved government services, improved public relations and attitudes towards the government and improved data quality. In other words, there are sufficient reasons for governments to create a portal to open their data.
One of the new business opportunities that have developed out of governments publicizing their open data is the rise of data marketplaces or data supermarkets. Companies such as DataMarket or InfoChimps are building marketplaces where not only the public data is available but where users can also easily combine it with all sorts of other (free) datasets for increased insights and discovery of new opportunities by linking different datasets. Of course, also Google joins this field and they have created a search engine to search through 104 different datasets. The same goes for the public datasets available on Amazon Web Services that can be easily integrated in different AWS applications.
Of course, such marketplaces are just one example of using public data for commercial use. Please share with us in the comments or via the forum how you are using public data in your organisation and what it has brought to you and/or your organisation already.