Sir Nigel Shadbolt, open data and AI expert, famously said that “if we are to realise the benefits that open data offers for innovation and value creation we must be bold, brave and resolute”. Since then, the open data economy is rapidly becoming a cornerstone of industry. It has made contributions to a multitude of sectors which range from Information and Communication, to Health, Education, Services and Business across a plethora of countries. But, where is this movement heading in the near future? Some of our very own ODINE startups have been discussing their thoughts on which of the new and exciting trends they think will be future of innovation for the open data movement.
Open vs. Closed Data
One of the most talked about improvements for the open data movement is being able to seamlessly combine open data with private, corporate owned data. This is often expressed as one of the top needs for business expansion, particularly from smaller to medium sized startups working across a number of sectors. Combining open datasets with private, closed or corporate data is a challenge to achieve in the near future as privacy issues remain a large obstacle to getting the most out of existing open data sets.
“We have been trying to convince large multinationals to open up their data and engage with the open data and developer communities for years. Now because of the rapidly accelerating pace of technology, they are starting to come around. The most convincing argument is that, staying closed and alone, they are too slow to innovate and roll out quickly enough to meet demand – they will miss opportunities.” – Glimworm, 2016.
Pictured above: A summary visualisation of the Open Data Ecosystem (Source: OpenDataMonitor, 2016).
There is much to be done to develop a structured, international open data ecosystem that is less bounded by the limitations of private and corporate data. However, it is important to bear in mind that the real unlying challenge of using open data, even after it has been supplemented by private data, is whether businesses know how to use it effectively.
“Open data is out there – but can companies leverage it? Issues such as structured versus unstructured data and the resolution of the data are current hurdles. Also, how do we combine open data with private data?” – Farmdog, 2016.
Sickly, an ODINE startup who help schools manage and maintain attendance, explain that merging data from multiple sources has already resulted in novel and innovative insights previously unavailable. They argue that the future of open data is dependent then on individuals with imagination, who can spot the opportunities and to find schemes like ODINE which can support the movement.
The Three ‘e’s: eHealth, eGovernment and eEducation
The three e’s are commonly used buzzwords in the research and business sectors alike. Although popular, the hype that they create is justified. In fact, this is where a majority of the ODINE startups predict will be the area in which some of the more groundbreaking developments in open data and its applications may occur.
“More governments and councils around the world are joining the Open Government Data movement, leveraging modern information infrastructure to allow fair and more efficient access to public and tax-funded data” – Bike Citizens, 2016.
In eHealth open data has already caused ripples. It’s resulted in the creation of technology and treatments that can help cancer patients, tailored consultancy and new insights into biometrics to name a few. As a result, many of the business and collaborations in this area hope that the future of open data sees more standardisation and licensing to make working with open medical data easier.
“Support from within the government is growing, and awareness within the sector along with it. We’re seeing a trend in education and understanding of what open data can do for us.” – Imin, 2016.
The ultimate goal for the ‘e’ trends however is to expand their communities on a larger global scale. Datapress, an ODINE startup, are pleased with the way in which governments and companies are embracing the open source community. They emphasise that better collaboration, improved integration and larger communities are the future of open data. They further predict that due to the global partnerships working together to solve common problems, the solutions produced have been categorically better than products from the old guard of large corporate vendors.
The Future of Open Businesses?
Alongside larger corporations and governments who are realising the power of open data there is another fundamental component to its future: the average citizen. Plume Labs, an ODINE startup, argue that the most exciting thing for the future of businesses is seeing citizens support the movement wholeheartedly, and taking an active role in the creation, sharing of, and application of open datasets. Commonly this is through campaigns such as crowdsourcing which are producing groundbreaking results for many startups.
“When we started, the company information and open data were not connected at all, even by transparency NGOs. Now, it’s well understood by many governments, intergovernmental organisations such as the World Bank, and all transparency NGOs that open data on companies is an important requirement for a modern democratic society. The growth of open data businesses is very encouraging and critical to the establishment of ‘open data’ as a de facto for many research, charity and government datasets.” – Open Gazettes, 2016.
Pictured Above: A Bar Chart of the Total New API’s Associated with the Open Data Movement (Source: Open Data Infographics).
The future of any business is ultimately dictated by the market potential. As open data provided an untapped opportunity for startups, so do niche areas of the movement to future companies. The way in which we perceive open data will consequently have large repercussions. Siris Academics, an ODINE startup, predict that part of the paradigm shift will involve moving from mute repositories to domain-expert answers and visualisations. This allows data to be exploited according to intuitions and requirements, without worrying about the data sources and format.
Finally, we must look to larger global trends that have the power to sway governments, companies, and individuals alike, for example climate change. A number of ODINE startups hope to see more businesses orientated towards using and creating data about energy and the environment. Partly, this should enhance the quality of everyday life for example by branching out and refining Smart Cities. Partly, this should unite individuals from all backgrounds to a greater cause in protecting the future of our planet.
“Open Data plays an increasingly important role in the creation of smart, sustainable and livable cities of tomorrow.” – Green City Solutions, 2016.