Every day young startups and large companies are using open government data to build new products and services that address real challenges for Americans. Fueled by open data, these enterprises are hiring people in cities and towns across the country. Open data is also helping the Federal Government to be more efficient, effective, data-driven and transparent. We’ve seen the power of open government data in action - and it pays off.
In October, McKinsey & Company released a new report that reinforces the importance of the Obama Administration’s work to make government data more accessible and useful for citizens, companies, and innovators, while continuing to ensure privacy and security.
According to the new report, open data can generate more than $3 trillion a year in additional value in seven key domains of the global economy, including education, transportation and electricity. The report also finds that, in addition to catalysing a variety of societal benefits, open data efforts lead to increased efficiencies; the development of new products and services; and consumer surplus, meaning cost savings, convenience, and better-quality products. These findings are encouraging and provide even more fuel to mobilize all hands on deck to unleash the full value of open data.
In another important step, the Open Data Institute announced last month the creation of a new international open data network. As a part of this, the Knight Foundation also announced it will be seed-funding a US Open Data Institute, modelled after the UK’s non-profit ODI, which aims to promote collaboration among governments, organizations and businesses to catalyse the adoption of open data.
This is great news. Data is a valuable national asset that should be open and available to the public, to entrepreneurs, to scientists, and others - instead of being trapped in closed government systems. The creation of organisations like the new US Open Data Institute can help mobilise stakeholders to realize the full potential of open data.
The Obama Administration will continue to work to make government data more accessible and useful to the public and innovators. Taxpayers have already paid for the creation of vast troves of government data - and wherever possible, those data should be accessible to everyone.
In July, President Obama delivered remarks highlighting the importance of unlocking government data and some of the start-ups fueled by open data. “For the first time in history, we’ve opened up huge amounts of government data to the American people, and put it on the Internet for free. At Data.gov, you can search through and download more than 75,000 data sets - data on everything from what different hospitals charge for different procedures, to credit card complaints, to weather and climate measurements. And what’s happening is entrepreneurs and business owners are now using that data - the people’s data - to create jobs and solve problems that government can’t solve by itself or can’t do as efficiently,” he said.
President Obama noted: “So there’s a company called Opower, for example, that’s used open government data on general energy trends and weather to help families save more than $300 million on their energy bills. There’s another company called iTriage - founded by two emergency room doctors - that is using freely-downloadable data about health care providers from the Department of Health and Human Services to help more than 9 million people find the closest doctors and hospitals that meet their needs. And the list goes on. And these companies have now hired hundreds of people and they’re still hiring. And millions of people have already used these applications that were created as a consequence of releasing this data.”
Following up on last year’s Obama Administration announcement of a “Big Data” initiative, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, National Science Foundation, and other agencies in the Networking and Information Technology Research & Development program are today (12th November) unveilling new, high-impact collaborations among Federal agencies, private industry, academia, state and local governments, non-profits, and foundations, that will harness big data to enhance economic growth and job creation, education and health, energy and environmental sustainability, public safety, and global development.
Here are just a few examples of growing start-ups and businesses that use open government data: