How Open Data Is Creating New Opportunities in the Public Sector

Martin Yan at GovTech: Increased availability of open data in turn increases the ease with which citizens and their governments can collaborate, as well as equipping citizens to be active in identifying and addressing issues themselves. Technology developers are able to explore innovative uses of open data in combination with digital tools, new apps or other products that can tackle recognized inefficiencies. Currently, both the public and private sectors are teeming with such apps and projects….

Open data has proven to be a catalyst for the creation of new tools across industries and public-sector uses. Examples of a few successful projects include:

  • Citymapper — The popular real-time public transport app uses open data from Apple, Google, Cyclestreets, OpenStreetMaps and more sources to help citizens navigate cities. Features include A-to-B trip planning with ETA, real-time departures, bike routing, transit maps, public transport line status, real-time disruption alerts and integration with Uber.
  • Dataverse Project — This project from Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science makes it easy to share, explore and analyze research data. By simplifying access to this data, the project allows researchers to replicate others’ work to the benefit of all.
  • Liveplasma — An interactive search engine, Liveplasma lets users listen to music and view a web-like visualization of similar songs and artists, seeing how they are related and enabling discovery. Content from YouTube is streamed into the data visualizations.
  • Provenance — The England-based online platform lets users trace the origin and history of a product, also providing its manufacturing information. The mission is to encourage transparency in the practices of the corporations that produce the products we all use.

These examples demonstrate open data’s reach, value and impact well beyond the public sector. As open data continues to be put to wider use, the results will not be limited to increased efficiency and reduced wasteful spending in government, but will also create economic growth and jobs due to the products and services using the information as a foundation.

However, in the end, it won’t be the data alone that solves issues. Rather, it will be dependent on individual citizens, developers and organizations to see the possibilities, take up the call to arms and use this available data to introduce changes that make our world better….(More)”