Smart cities
Smart cities

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2.2 The business case for open data

A photograph of a woman holding a tablet and sharing the screen with two men either side of her.
Figure 7 Sharing data.

Open Data for Economic Growth is a report by the World Bank that discusses the five archetypes of open data businesses (World Bank, 2014).

  • Suppliers – organisations publishing their data as open data to allow others to use and re-use it.
  • Aggregators – organisations collecting and aggregating open data as well as, sometimes, other proprietary data.
  • Developers – organisations and individual developers designing, building and selling web or smartphone applications using open data.
  • Enrichers – organisations using open data to gain new or better insights that they can deliver in services or products to their customers.
  • Enablers – organisations providing platform and technologies for use by other businesses and individuals.

An organisation that wants to use open data needs to identify how the data will be used in its product or service and assess the risks of using an open data source. The second point here relies on the data publisher. Problems may arise if the data is not delivered in a regular and consistent format.

The Open Data Institute has identified and analysed 270 companies in the UK that use, produce or invest in open data. The companies studied had annual turnover of over £92 billion and over 500,000 employees between them, showing the scale of open data’s potential value in business (Open Data Institute, 2015). The median age of a UK open data company was found to be eight years, showing that it’s not just start-ups using open data.

If your smart cities project is going to use open data you’ll need to think about how you’ll be using open data and who will be its supplier.

Further reading

The Open Data Handbook [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , produced by Open Knowledge, offers further guidance on open data, as well as value stories and resources.

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