Selected Readings on Economic Impact of Open Data


The Living Library’s Selected Readings series seeks to build a knowledge base on innovative approaches for improving the effectiveness and legitimacy of governance. This curated and annotated collection of recommended works on the topic of open data was originally published in 2014.

Open data is publicly available data – often released by governments, scientists, and occasionally private companies – that is made available for anyone to use, in a machine-readable format, free of charge. Considerable attention has been devoted to the economic potential of open data for businesses and other organizations, and it is now widely accepted that open data plays an important role in spurring innovation, growth, and job creation. From new business models to innovation in local governance, open data is being quickly adopted as a valuable resource at many levels.

Measuring and analyzing the economic impact of open data in a systematic way is challenging, and governments as well as other providers of open data seek to provide access to the data in a standardized way. As governmental transparency increases and open data changes business models and activities in many economic sectors, it is important to understand best practices for releasing and using non-proprietary, public information. Costs, social challenges, and technical barriers also influence the economic impact of open data.

These selected readings are intended as a first step in the direction of answering the question of if we can and how we consider if opening data spurs economic impact.

Selected Reading List (in alphabetical order)

Annotated Selected Reading List (in alphabetical order)

Bonina, Carla. New Business Models and the Values of Open Data: Definitions, Challenges, and Opportunities. NEMODE 3K – Small Grants Call 2013. http://bit.ly/1xGf9oe

  • In this paper, Dr. Carla Bonina provides an introduction to open data and open data business models, evaluating their potential economic value and identifying future challenges for the effectiveness of open data, such as personal data and privacy, the emerging data divide, and the costs of collecting, producing and releasing open (government) data.

Carpenter, John and Phil Watts. Assessing the Value of OS OpenData™ to the Economy of Great Britain – Synopsis. June 2013. Accessed July 25, 2014. http://bit.ly/1rTLVUE

  • John Carpenter and Phil Watts of Ordnance Survey undertook a study to examine the economic impact of open data to the economy of Great Britain. Using a variety of methods such as case studies, interviews, downlad analysis, adoption rates, impact calculation, and CGE modeling, the authors estimates that the OS OpenData initiative will deliver a net of increase in GDP of £13 – 28.5 million for Great Britain in 2013.

Capgemini Consulting. The Open Data Economy: Unlocking Economic Value by Opening Government and Public Data. Capgemini Consulting. Accessed July 24, 2014. http://bit.ly/1n7MR02

  • This report explores how governments are leveraging open data for economic benefits. Through using a compariative approach, the authors study important open data from organizational, technological, social and political perspectives. The study highlights the potential of open data to drive profit through increasing the effectiveness of benchmarking and other data-driven business strategies.

Deloitte. Open Growth: Stimulating Demand for Open Data in the UK. Deloitte Analytics. December 2012. Accessed July 24, 2014. http://bit.ly/1oeFhks

  • This early paper on open data by Deloitte uses case studies and statistical analysis on open government data to create models of businesses using open data. They also review the market supply and demand of open government data in emerging sectors of the economy.

Gruen, Nicholas, John Houghton and Richard Tooth. Open for Business: How Open Data Can Help Achieve the G20 Growth Target.  Accessed July 24, 2014, http://bit.ly/UOmBRe

  • This report highlights the potential economic value of the open data agenda in Australia and the G20. The report provides an initial literature review on the economic value of open data, as well as a asset of case studies on the economic value of open data, and a set of recommendations for how open data can help the G20 and Australia achieve target objectives in the areas of trade, finance, fiscal and monetary policy, anti-corruption, employment, energy, and infrastructure.

Heusser, Felipe I. Understanding Open Government Data and Addressing Its Impact (draft version). World Wide Web Foundation. http://bit.ly/1o9Egym

  • The World Wide Web Foundation, in collaboration with IDRC has begun a research network to explore the impacts of open data in developing countries. In addition to the Web Foundation and IDRC, the network includes the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, the Open Development Technology Alliance and Practical Participation.

Howard, Alex. San Francisco Looks to Tap Into the Open Data Economy. O’Reilly Radar: Insight, Analysis, and Reach about Emerging Technologies.  October 19, 2012.  Accessed July 24, 2014. http://oreil.ly/1qNRt3h

  • Alex Howard points to San Francisco as one of the first municipalities in the United States to embrace an open data platform.  He outlines how open data has driven innovation in local governance.  Moreover, he discusses the potential impact of open data on job creation and government technology infrastructure in the City and County of San Francisco.

Huijboom, Noor and Tijs Van den Broek. Open Data: An International Comparison of Strategies. European Journal of ePractice. March 2011. Accessed July 24, 2014.  http://bit.ly/1AE24jq

  • This article examines five countries and their open data strategies, identifying key features, main barriers, and drivers of progress for of open data programs. The authors outline the key challenges facing European, and other national open data policies, highlighting the emerging role open data initiatives are playing in political and administrative agendas around the world.

Manyika, J., Michael Chui, Diana Farrell, Steve Van Kuiken, Peter Groves, and Elizabeth Almasi Doshi. Open Data: Unlocking Innovation and Performance with Liquid Innovation. McKinsey Global Institute. October 2013. Accessed July 24, 2014.  http://bit.ly/1lgDX0v

  • This research focuses on quantifying the potential value of open data in seven “domains” in the global economy: education, transportation, consumer products, electricity, oil and gas, health care, and consumer finance.

Moore, Alida. Congressional Transparency Caucus: How Open Data Creates Jobs. April 2, 2014. Accessed July 30, 2014. Socrata. http://bit.ly/1n7OJpp

  • Socrata provides a summary of the March 24th briefing of the Congressional Transparency Caucus on the need to increase government transparency through adopting open data initiatives. They include key takeaways from the panel discussion, as well as their role in making open data available for businesses.

Stott, Andrew. Open Data for Economic Growth. The World Bank. June 25, 2014. Accessed July 24, 2014. http://bit.ly/1n7PRJF

  • In this report, The World Bank examines the evidence for the economic potential of open data, holding that the economic potential is quite large, despite a variation in the published estimates, and difficulties assessing its potential methodologically. They provide five archetypes of businesses using open data, and provides recommendations for governments trying to maximize economic growth from open data.

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