The Open Data Revolution

I went for a look Sir Tim Berners Lee’s (the founder of the internet) new brain child: the Open Data Institute, last week.

The ODI (http://www.theodi.org) is a completely new concept based on the opening up of previously inaccessible government data. It will be

“a global first: a collaboration between our leading businesses and entrepreneurs, universities and researchers, government and civil society to unlock enterprise and social value from the vast amount of Open Government Data now being made accessible.

From health and life sciences to education, transport and central government spending data, government is releasing far more data than ever before.”

This means that the information that huge industries run on is exposed and open to anyone to examine.

And then what?

Make disruptive businesses ofcouse! Well, that and feedback into the public sector to put inefficiencies in lights, and make it easy to access and chewable by anyone.

One business we spoke to made a data visulaisation tool called Locatable. This let users select various criteria that was important to them, such as proximity to a school, gym, workplace, transport link .. or bar; and compare these factors against their housing budget to find suitable locations in London for them to live. It’s so fast, easy to use and powerful. I was very impressed.

Another guy made a product called Placr which creates real-time transport data feeds for organisations. On top of this he could use decades worth of transport data to create statistical analysis of what impacts transport flow and look at where huge infrastructure companies were not acting on the best interests of users.

Looking at the big picture, the ODI is creating open data champions and building a world leading advantage in data mining expertise. It’s a shrewd move by the UK government, which will make itself work better through transparency and create a team of experts who can support other countries governments to open up their data.

It was a fascinating place and while in there I even heard the word “revolutionise” on more than one occasion. Watch this space..

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