Caption: Open Data. Photo: Yayimages
According to OpenDefinition.org, Open Data is "information that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone - subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and sharealike". Delving deeper, there are a few main points that summarize the essence of the real meaning of open data:
- Availability: the information must be complete and presented in a convenient and modifiable form.
- Re-use: the data must be provided under terms that allow its redistribution, including the ability to intermix with other datasets.
- Universal: there should be no discrimination against people or groups - ex. clauses preventing commercial use or restricting the usage of the data to specific fields.
Information is power
Open Data is becoming a powerful tool for detecting new niches in the technology field. A large number of institutions and companies, especially public sector organisations, gather a lot of information every day to develop their activity. This data can be shared to improve the economy, for example. Studies estimate the annual economic value of open data to be several billions for the EU alone. Open data also has the potential to accelerate activity and create new businesses, as well as helping existing companies save time and money while developing their activity.
How open data affects the startup community
The startup community is driving this new way of doing business, not only discovering niches but also creating new products, services and business models. In addition, startups are key to providing feedback about difficulties using the data and they usually combine innovation with the will to create social, environmental and economic impact.
The benefits open data provide to society are directly related to the lack of technological, legal or financial barriers. There are no obstacles or limits in the way the information is used.
Open data is generating a great deal of excitement due to its potential to empower citizens and its ability to transform the way businesses, governments and society work. We've just scratched the surface but it's an important first step to fully understanding the economic value of this tool and the ways it can be used to benefit people.
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