Open data has several definitions but our preferred one at Data To Value is from the Open Data Institute – ‘Open data is data that anyone can access, use and share.’ Simple really but there is a follow-on – ‘For data to be considered ‘open’, it must be published in an accessible format, with a license that permits anyone to access, use and share it’.
The growing open data movement is using these principles to make what is traditionally considered internal data more readily available to anyone who wishes to access it, use it and manipulate in any way, shape or form.
At national level in 2013 the UK along with the other G8 countries signed up to the Open Data Charter and committed to five key principles:
- Open Data by Default
- Quality and Quantity
- Useable by All
- Releasing Data for Improved Governance
- Releasing Data for Innovation
This level of driver is helping government departments, agencies and local authorities to become more transparent and accountable while enabling tech entrepreneurs to create disruptive technology that benefits society. A 2013 study done by Deloitte estimates that the economic benefit of public sector information is worth around £1.8 billion, with social benefits amounting to £5 billion. The study highlights that the use and re-use of public information helps organisations and individuals in the following ways:
- Fuel innovation – develop new products and services.
- Increase the accountability of public service providers, improve engagement rates of individuals in the democratic function, increase transparency and help better policymaking.
- Reduce barriers to entry for markets with information asymmetry.
- Inform people on social issues happening around them.
Some case studies include:
- Publishing Open Data on cardiac surgery that had positive impacts on mortality rates with an economic value of £400 million p.a.
- Providing Open Data streams – the clear benefits is evident in many mobile apps, for example tracking congestion zones and helping users find alternative routes or live transport information such as the next bus.
- The use of live weather data to identify if users are in danger of storms, floods, snow or other hazards has an estimated economic value between £15 million and £58 million p.a..
Open Data is beginning to affect us all and it is important to use sound Data Management principles to achieve public trust and to deliver the maximum benefit.