Driving Innovation With Open Data

Research Article by The GovLab’s Joel Gurin (Chapter 6 in the report, “The Future of Data-Driven Innovation.”):  The chapters in this report provide ample evidence of the power of data and its business potential. But like any business resource, data is only valuable if the benefit of using it outweighs its cost. Data collection, management, distribution, quality control, and application all come at a price—a potential obstacle for companies of any size, though especially for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Over the last several years, however, the “I” of data’s return on investment (ROI) has become less of a hurdle, and new data-driven companies are developing rapidly as a result. One major reason is that governments at the federal, state, and local level are making more data available at little or no charge for the private sector and the public to use. Governments collect data of all kinds—including scientific, demographic, and financial data—at taxpayer expense.
Now, public sector agencies and departments are increasingly repaying that public investment by making their data available to all for free or at a low cost. This is Open Data. While there are still costs in putting the data to use, the growing availability of this national resource is becoming a significant driver for hundreds of new businesses. This chapter describes the growing potential of Open Data and the data-driven innovation it supports, the types of data and applications that are most promising, and the policies that will encourage innovation going forward. Read and download this article in PDF format.