This article aims to give introductory information about Open Data. Here, the author details some aspects of open data to acknowledge individuals and society about its potentials.
I’ve been following the Open Data closely and believe that it will be one of the main drivers of innovation and competition not only in mature markets but also in emerging markets. Open Data will bring us more and more value by reducing the transaction costs in the market just like what Internet and Crowd have done since the start of Digital Revolution.
There has been much hype around Open Data. But what does it actually mean and what its impact will be in the long run?
#1: What is Open Data? “Open data is data that anyone can access, use or share. Simple as that.” says ODI.
Is this that simple? Data is anything from the spreadsheets, you are sharing with your colleagues, to a person’s medical health examination result. To accept a data as Open, the data not only should be accessible by the public but also a confirmed consent on how to use and publish this data should be given by the owner. Weather forecasts, traffic or agriculture production data are sample open data most of the governmental bodies are publishing in many countries. How would life be in most of the cities without CityMapper kind of applications? Open Data is not only an inspirational area to develop solutions for daily life obstacles but also a very critical subject; we should increase awareness of if we are concerned about fair trade and open governments. UK is leading many initiatives on Open Data, as London is the home of Open Data Institute, a remarkable institute offering Research, Training, Industry Collaboration and Leadership. The UK governments of various political parties have successfully supported open data initiatives and encouraged the open data to be released and reused. In 2015, Open Data Barometer, following Taiwan, ranks UK number 2 in the world for its leadership. 2016 Rankings have not been published yet.
#2: How Open Data brings value to the community? Imagine the initiatives driving drones around the globe to transfer food surplus from one region to another for the people in hunger. Could it happen? At the moment, we don’t know what is produced and where, what happens to it after it has been harvested, what food products come from which harvests. In agriculture, we do not have a complete and comprehensive picture as we do in some other industries. We have enough food on earth but we are short of knowledge for efficient distribution of the food on earth and causing more than 800k people sleeping in hunger every night. Open Data has the potential to solve this because it enables organizations and individuals to develop solutions without transaction costs of accessing to information.
Since 2013, Global Open Data Index evaluates 122 countries/governments by looking at the quality and accessibility of open data they publish in following categories: National Statistics, Government Budget, Legislation, Procurement tenders, Election Results, National Map, Weather forecast, Pollutant Emissions, Company Register, Location datasets, Water Quality, Land Ownership, Government Spending. On the other hand, since the 1990s, Human Development Index has been calculated over life expectancy, years of schooling and gross national income. Let’s have a look at if there is any correlation between these 2 indexes for Very High Development Countries and try to understand if we can see any relation how the countries are ranked in these two indexes.
The data plotted (in the linked graphic) does not give us significant correlation for these 2 indexes. However, by looking at the trend line, one can easily see the countries with very high development index do also support Open Data more, thus they are ranked higher in Global Open Data Index. The developed countries do care Open Data and invest in it as part of their investment appetite.
#3: How Open Data brings value to the business? In Cruncbase, you come up more than 30k companies if you make a search with keyword “data” on company description. But if you search with “open data”, it is slightly more than a hundred. We have to admit that Open Data is still not exploited at full capacity. The most important reason behind this is lack of open data even in mature markets. But even, the limited numbers of open data sources are creating initiatives like OpenGov, Enigma, Junar or OpenDataSoft, which have attracted millions of investments since 2015.
Open data initiatives that seek for business value by changing the way data is distributed for commons are not dominating the market yet. However, open data supported areas, like open banking and open API are already leading the way the bank of the future is reshaped. I remember the days when the smallest integration with partner point of sales systems was planned as 3 months project. Now, open API is delivering possibilities of partnerships overnight. This subject deserves a very special focus, thus I will not go into more details here in this article, but will be posting my views on another study soon.
#4: The promising developments in emerging countries like Turkey: Apart from the commercial potential in mature markets, Open Data is a promising frontier in emerging markets as well and mainly supported by non-governmental organizations which seek for advantageous in founding better sources of information and removing obstacles in accessing it equally. Turkish Association of Open Data and Data Journalism (http://www.avvg.org.tr/) is one of them and has been active since December 2015. It is the first non-profit organization regarding Open Data and Data Journalism in Turkey. The aim is to promote data literacy in Turkey via workshops, conferences, producing e-books, articles, and long-term projects. UK is supporting not only the open data development within the country borders but also partnering with these kinds of associations in countries like Turkey and Israel by building up structured know-how transfers and funds. It is truly an important partnership among countries since the data is already globalized.
The potential of Open Data will be enabled by government support as the main producer and consumer of it. Though we now see that it is mostly governments blocking it especially in the emerging markets. We will see more than this potential is exploited by private investments when data security and open APIs make innovating accessible to all. As open standards allowed the Internet to thrive once; open data will help many entrepreneurs and civil organizations reach their full capacity in equal terms.
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