None more so than open data, which is free to access, free to use, and can be shared by anyone. It’s non-personal and can be used to identify and predict large-scale trends and behaviours. This is as opposed to closed data that is restricted to internal use by an organisation.
Many organisations are now seeing the benefits of open data. The European Union Open Data Portal, the British government’s efforts under the banner of Opening up Government, and the Global Open Data Index are three examples of initiatives that bring together and make available large amounts of data about industry, health, education, and employment among other fields.
So the availability of open data creates opportunities for all kinds of organisations, government agencies and not-for-profits to come up with new ways of addressing society’s problems. These include predictive healthcare, and planning and improving London’s public transport system.
In fact, Transport for London was one of the first public bodies to put open data to use to create new applications. More than 5,000 developers have registered to use its data, distributed through 30 feeds. This includes journey planning, disruptions, arrival and departure predictions, timetables, routes and fares. Collaborations with developers have led to the popular app, Citymapper, and accessible apps such as the Colourblind Tube Map.
The future of open data is a collaborative process with the aim of providing civic benefits. Organisations need to share their data and work together to create novel uses for it that make our lives easier or richer. Using data that describes the patterns behind how we live can help us solve problems in ways we might not have foreseen.