Benefits of using Open Data
Open Data is an enormous resource that is as yet to be explored. Many people and institutions gather various types of data in order to perform their tasks. Government is particularly active in this aspect, both because of the quantity and centrality of the data it collects, but also because most of that government data is public data by law, and therefore could be made open and made available for others to use. Why is that of interest?
What is Open Data?
Open data is the data that is available to anyone and that every single person, private structure or public institution could use and share.
Without data, we cannot build information. And without information, there is no new knowledge. Data is the raw material, from which we can gather certain information and, ultimately, create knowledge.
Probably, the very first real appearance of the term Open Data took place in 1995 in a scientific document. The authors interested themselves in the geophysical and environmental data and promoted a complete and open exchange of scientific information between different countries.
Earlier, in 1942, Robert King Merton, a famous sociologist explained the importance of the free accessibility of researches. Each researcher must contribute to the “common pot” and give up intellectual property rights to allow knowledge to move forward.
In one of her researches, Elinor Orstrom, who has Nobel Prize of Economics, showed the benefits of information commons. They have similarities with public goods, because like them, they could be used by one person without depriving someone else. However, these are public goods of a new kind: not only their use doesn’t deplete the common stock, but it enriches it.
Why it’s important to have Open Data
Open Data is a natural source of this digital age and unlike other natural resources like coal or diamonds, it could be used by everyone in the same time. Subsequently, the open data literacy is a crucial skill for any company that wants to adapt to the changing world and to take advantage of this new boom of resources. For instance, in agriculture, open data is used to feed growing population. Another example comes from Finland, where according to a recent study, firms functioning in the countries in which public sector agencies provide fundamental geographical information either freely or at maximum marginal costs have grown, on average, about 15 percent more per annum than other firms that don’t use open data.
Open Data is helping governments to improve the efficiency of public services, build trust with citizens and boost engagement in the political process. The main reason – a new generation of voters has come to expect a digitally literate and engaged government. Consequently, governments across the world are introducing an Open Data policies in the heart of their agenda. For example, In the UK, open data helped reveal£200 million of savings in the health service. In France, energy data is being used to drive more efficient energy generation practices.
Open Data is helping to unlock economic value by providing the raw material for innovation. For instance, in the transport sector open data is forming a boom in app companies. Open data is also being used as a catalyst in the digital transformation of the government. Policy makers are using a variety of sources to improve the policy process.
Furthermore, open data is helping to connect people on a key topics and create more profound debate around cultural issues. OpenGLAM is helping to capture the heritage and cultural memories of groups in Germany, Switzerland and Finland.
It is also saving lives – with geographic information, an aid statistics are being used by humanitarian groups to deliver supplies to disaster zones. In 2015, open data has been used to help people in Haiti and Philippines in response to disasters and is also being used to track the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa.
Etudiant en Master II Droit de l’économie numérique, je suis intéressé par les tendances actuelles du numérique et par l’impact que celles-ci ont sur le monde juridique, notamment du point de vue du droit de l’Union européenne.