How Government Can Unlock Economic Benefits from Open Data

at GovTech: “Zillow, the fast-growing online real estate marketplace, couldn’t exist without public data. More specifically, it probably couldn’t exist without online public data relating to real estate sales information. The nation has more than 3,000 counties, each with its own registry of deeds where routine but vital data are recorded on every transaction involving the sale of homes, businesses and land. Until recently, much of that information resided in paper documents stored in filing cabinets. But as that information has moved online, its value has increased, making it possible for firms like Zillow to use the data in new ways, creating its popular “zestimate” forecast on home values.

Zillow is a prime example of how open data creates economic value. The Seattle-based company has grown rapidly since its launch in 2006, generating more than $78 million in revenue in its last financial quarter and employing more than 500 workers. But real estate firms aren’t the only businesses benefiting from data collected and published by government.
GovLab, a research laboratory run by New York University, publishes the Open Data 500, a list of companies that benefit from open data produced by the federal government. The list contains more than 15 categories of businesses, ranging from health care and education to energy, finance, legal and the environment. And the data flows from all the major agencies, including NASA, Defense, Transportation, Homeland Security and Labor….
Zillow’s road to success underscores the challenges that lie ahead if local government is going to grab its share of open data’s economic bonanza. One of the company’s biggest hurdles was to create a system that could integrate government data from thousands of databases in county government. “There’s no standard format, which is very frustrating,” Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief economist, told “It’s up to us to figure out 3,000 different ways to ingest data and make sense of it…. More at GovTech