4th IODC

Blog IODC 2016
Madrid. October 6-7, 2016


Open data: much beyond accountability

May 17, 2016 by Marc Garriga0

Marc Garriga graduated in Computer Engineering from UPC (Polytechnic University of Catalonia) and in Market Research and Techniques from UOC (Open University of Catalonia). Being an expert on Open Data and, more generally, in open government, he has taken part in various initiatives in each field. By mid-2012, he set up desideDatum Data Company, a company focused on offering services related to management and data opening such as consulting the Generalitat de Catalunya (on the creation of the Catalonia Transparency Portal, which will host more than a thousand public entities), among many other projects related to open data, open government and Smart Cities.

Besides, desideDatum Data Company is one of Socrata’s main partners, the most important open data service provider globally.

He is a pro-public sector, pro-transparency, pro-open government and pro-Network Society activist; among others, he is founding member of the Spanish Chapter on the Open Knowledge Foundation Network (OKFN-Spain), of Xarxa d’Innovació Pública (XiP), of the group Catalunya Dades, and he is a node atTheProject (THP).

Usually, when someone hears the words “open data,” what comes to mind is public sector data and, more specifically, data related with accountability for the citizens or focusing on public sector transparency for society.

This is understandable and, besides, totally right. Undoubtedly, we can give transparency to our public sector through the release of data, contributing to what Alberto Ortiz de Zarate defined as “Collaborative Transparency.

But many more needs can be covered with the release of data. We can release other public data such as, see, traffic data, providing a better mobility in the cities with the reuse of those data by private companies. This is the case of Waze, the application that completely transformed mobility between two points thanks to the smart management and generation of traffic data. The Tel Aviv (Israel) city council released data related with closed roads; thanks to the reuse of these data, Waze users could reduce driving time by 19%. We can also release other public data such as the location of traffic tickets to detect black spots in traffic signs and improve it (as occurred in New York City).

But we can go even further…we can and we must.

Why not using data release technology for other uses far from the traditional perspective of open data?

For example, the newspaper L`Équipe, one of the main sports newspapers in France, offers a nutrition and sports service.  This service offers recipes for athletes (according to the ingredients you want to eat and other variables). This service is based on open data technology (although, visually, it does not seem so).

Another excellent case is that of the company Climate Corporation (currently in the Monsanto Group). This company offers insurances concerning weather forecast, especially for the agricultural sector. This forecast is made, in part, thanks to open data by the meteorological agencies. Their clients –mostly farmers– are not aware of what open data are; however, thanks to them, they are benefiting from quality insurances.

Companies also consume open data in Spain. For example, Eixos supplements open data – Cadastro data, among other sources– with their own data to provide services of analysis of the urban economic fabric.

The common characteristic between these three examples is that they have focused on managing open data consumption efficiently with a clear objective: offering a service that meets a specific need.

But we can go even further…we can and we must.

Why not using data release internally?

Why not using “selective data release”? The following are two examples of opening data selectively:

  • Releasing data with our providers/clients. We can use open data technology to share with our clients their consumption levels of our services.
  • Releasing data internally among employees of our organization. This would be open data within the limits of the organization, and this can be quite big, as is the case with multinational corporations.

Who said open data had to be offered to the whole society? Open data technology can be used to provide data to the whole society or just part of it (our clients, providers, employees or members of our neighborhood association).

In sum, we are just in the prologue to this suggestive book called “Open Data,” which surely will become a best seller.

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