The ten sports data start-ups taking part in the OpenActive Accelerator put on a mini demo day showing how far they have progressed over the last three months. They have been receiving support, advice and guidance from the Open Data Institute and Sport England on how to best utilise open data from sport and activity providers. The goal is to create apps and services that enable the public to participate in exercise more easily - one example is Sweat & Sound, which creates fitness experiences such as yoga sessions with live music in secret locations.
According to Chris Pett, head of delivery at the ODI, there has been a two-way exchange of insight and expertise. He said: “It really confirmed to us and changed our thinking about the value of positive feedback loops between data publishers and data users. Before the accelerator, we thought it might be quite important. Now it is absolutely central to our thinking.”
“Opening up the data could create more value for your business.”
Pett said that this is an ongoing process that will never really end. It starts with the board level and making the case to the executives that opening data could create more value for a business than if nobody else has it. Once that case has been made, there is a technical challenge as well. “A lot of the time, the third party in the relationship - the software platform provider where the data is hosted - needs to be brought along as well,” said Pett.
He went on to say that all three – the start-up, the platform provider and the leisure provider – need to be joined up around recognising the value and around adopting the open data standards that are required to make the data open.
“We’re building the data infrastructure needed to make it available to the commons.”
“A lot of the work that is not inside the accelerator, our team is doing at OpenActive is around creating a suite of standards, we think of that as data infrastructure. So building the data infrastructure that the sector needs and making it available to the commons to everybody can contribute to it and build on it,” he said.
The OpenActive Accelerator uses data from the OpenActive feed, which was launched in late 2015 as the result of social good, open data technology company imin partnering with London Sport and the ODI. Would the ODI be involved in open data initiatives in sectors other than sport? Pett confirmed this would be the case. He said that banking, health and social care, pharmaceuticals and retail are other areas the ODI is working in.
Returning to the topic of sports data, Pett wanted to correct an assumption that people might have, that it is all about the elite performance. He said that, in fact, it is about the rest of us. “There’s the assumption that data and sport is all about helping your football team to win more matches. That’s really interesting, but what we’re focused on is creating behaviour change at population level. That is a much more interesting challenge and also more valuable.”