The Impact of Open Data

Freely available data from the U.S. Government is an important national resource, serving as fuel for entrepreneurship, innovation, scientific discovery, and other public benefits. According to a recent report, open data can generate more than $3 trillion a year in additional value in key sectors of the global economy, including education, health, transportation, and electricity.

Recognizing this, over the past few years, the Administration’s Open Data Initiatives have helped unlock troves of valuable data— that taxpayers have already paid for—and is making these resources more open and accessible to innovators and the public.

Today I participated on a panel hosted by the Center for Data Innovation to discuss the economic impact of open data. At the event we discussed an array of new and exciting actions being taken to help make data easier to find and use so that we can help realize its potential value, including:

  • The launch of Data.gov/Impact, which features examples of companies using open data in innovative ways, and insights about how they use open data in key sectors including education, transportation, energy, consumer finance, and consumer products;
  • The launch of the Open Data 500 study done by the Governance Lab (GovLab)—a research institution at New York University—of 500 companies that are using open government data to generate new businesses and develop new products and services The initiative is designed to identify, describe, and analyze companies that use open government data in order to study how these data can serve business needs more effectively.
  • The launch of a series of Open Data Roundtables with entrepreneurs and government agencies, convened by the GovLab, to help better connect business leaders who use open data, and who have ideas about ways the data could be more open and available, with government officials working to make the data easier to find and use in order to maximize its value to the public. The first roundtable will take place this spring and feature the U.S. Department of Commerce.
  • The U.S. Open Data Institute’s new open authentication system, which will make it easier for data producers to get “signatures” on information without locking them into PDFs – making that data more available for innovators to use once it’s released.
  • The U.S. Open Data Institute’s new initiative to create and implement open source software and standards for open government data related to hunting and fishing, aimed at modernizing and streamlining the $75 billion industry.

As our discussion made clear, the impact of open data is enormous. Entrepreneurs and businesses are using open government data to make better products, more accurate maps, and data-driven recommendations for things like energy usage and health decisions, all while growing the economy. And, as we continue to make data resources easier to use and to share, more business and entrepreneurs can tap into data in innovative exciting ways that benefit Americans. Mobilizing stakeholders to understand how data is being used and how it can be made more accessible will help us realize the full potential of open data.

Erie Meyer is Senior Advisor in the Office of Science and Technology Policy

 

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