Data has been referred to as the new raw material of the twenty-first century. And like any other raw material, it needs investment to locate, extract and refine it before it yields value. Used wisely, data creates opportunities for organisations to make more robust decisions, uncover cost savings and get to know their customers better.
As defined by opendefinition.org, “a piece of content or data is open if anyone is free to use, reuse, and distribute it – subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and share alike”. In 2009, the UK Government, among several other national and regional governments around the world, started to open up large amounts of public sector information. At first, the Government’s initiative gave citizens and the media the chance to root out poor performance or behaviour. And while transparency remains a fundamental aim, open government data also has an important role to play in the economy, supplemented by a small by growing volume of data made freely available by businesses and individuals.
Open data, employed in combination with open platforms, such as APIs (Application Programming Interface), open standards and open licences, expands the network of minds and unlocks the data’s latent potential. However, the companies and entrepreneurs using open data need to be nurtured and supported if they are to succeed.