If data is “the new oil,” then the Open Data Institute’s 5,000 square feet building in London’s trendy Shoreditch neighborhood is a huge oil field in the heart of the U.K. capital.In the 18 months since it was established, the ODI — a hybrid non-profit data science school, research institute, startup accelerator, and business franchise — has been digging, mining, analyzing, and dealing in vast reserves of data.
Do you recall being able to sit down in front of a bookshelf, pull out a selection from a set of encyclopedias and browse through the pages to see what information and photos were hidden within? If you're under 25 years old, it's likely you have no idea what that experience was like. The most archaic forms of information-sharing most Millennials recall are usually the first clunky attempts of Internet search on a computer.
The 'open data' movement in the UK has prompted the creation of a cluster of new businesses. Data is more accessible today than anyone could have imagined 10 or 20 years ago. From corporate databases to social media and embedded sensors, data is exploding, with total worldwide volume expected to reach 6.6 zettabytes by 2020.
Virginia and the District of Columbia, working with open-data advocates, are two examples of local jurisdictions that have made efforts to unlock their official law codes. Those efforts have put the codes in more flexible and tech-friendly formats that are easier to search, link within and build upon for future uses. The District is part of small coalition of proactive municipalities and open-government advocates around the nation that is seeking to make it easier for jurisdictions everywhere to host their official law codes, legislation and regulations on open-source technology.
Data that is more widely used is more likely to serve as the foundation for positive reforms and changes at the local level. There is growing potential and evidence of citizens using open data in interacting with local officials and development professionals to help monitor and improve the delivery and efficiency of public goods and services. Open financial data whether it is financing, budgeting, spending, or procurement information is a logical and fertile entry point for this type of citizen-driven accountability.
Open data has the potential to power tools that provide solutions to real problems. Although the UK is the world leader in releasing open data, its use in informing real world solutions has been limited and fragmented, with innovative startups sometimes lacking support and data expertise to scale to a sustainable business level