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Open Data initiative

Good Open Data. . . by design

Victoria L. Lemieux's picture
An unprecedented number of individuals and organizations are finding ways to explore, interpret and use Open Data. Public agencies are hosting Open Data events such as meetups, hackathons and data dives. The potential of these initiatives is great, including support for economic development (McKinsey, 2013), anti-corruption (European Public Sector Information Platform, 2014) and accountability (Open Government Partnership, 2012). But is Open Data’s full potential being realized?

A news item from Computer Weekly casts doubt. A recent report notes that, in the United Kingdom (UK), poor data quality is hindering the government’s Open Data program. The report goes on to explain that – in an effort to make the public sector more transparent and accountable – UK public bodies have been publishing spending records every month since November 2010. The authors of the report, who conducted an analysis of 50 spending-related data releases by the Cabinet Office since May 2010, found that that the data was of such poor quality that using it would require advanced computer skills. 
 
Data ambassadors wrapping up at
DataDive2013. Photo:
Carlos Teodoro Linares Carvalho.
 
Far from being a one-off problem, research suggests that this issue is ubiquitous and endemic. Some estimates indicate that as much as 80 percent of the time and cost of an analytics project is attributable to the need to clean up “dirty data” (Dasu and Johnson, 2003).
 
In addition to data quality issues, data provenance can be difficult to determine. Knowing where data originates and by what means it has been disclosed is key to being able to trust data. If end users do not trust data, they are unlikely to believe they can rely upon the information for accountability purposes. Establishing data provenance does not “spring full blown from the head of Zeus.” It entails a good deal of effort undertaking such activities as enriching data with metadata – data about data – such as the date of creation, the creator of the data, who has had access to the data over time and ensuring that both data and metadata remain unalterable.

Open Data for economic growth: the latest evidence

Andrew Stott's picture
One of the key policy drivers for Open Data has been to drive economic growth and business innovation. There’s a growing amount of evidence and analysis not only for the total potential economic benefit but also for some of the ways in which this is coming about. This evidence is summarised and reviewed in a new World Bank paper published today.

There’s a range of studies that suggest that the potential prize from Open Data could be enormous - including an estimate of $3-5 trillion a year globally from McKinsey Global Institute and an estimate of $13 trillion cumulative over the next 5 years in the G20 countries.  There are supporting studies of the value of Open Data to certain sectors in certain countries - for instance $20 billion a year to Agriculture in the US - and of the value of key datasets such as geospatial data.  All these support the conclusion that the economic potential is at least significant - although with a range from “significant” to “extremely significant”!

Is Open Data a goldmine for development?

Oleg Petrov's picture

Open Data could be a “Swiss Army Knife” for modern government - a multi-use tool that can be used to increase transparency and accountability, to improve public services, to enhance government efficiency and to stimulate economic growth, business innovation and job creation. 
 
The economic growth opportunity has certainly caught imaginations around the world. The Economist recently likened Open Data’s commercial potential to ‘a new goldmine.’ The McKinsey Global Institute estimated potential economic benefits of at least $3 trillion a year globally, and a recent study for the Omidyar Network by Lateral Economics suggested that, for G20 economies, Open Data could help increase output by $13 trillion cumulatively over the next five years. 
 
Other studies have suggested figures which are lower but still mouth-watering, especially for economies emerging from recession or facing anaemic growth. These are topics we will discuss at a World Bank-sponsored event on July 23, titled “Can Open Data Boost Economic Growth and Prosperity?”