Open Data, the foundations that start-ups are based on

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The ability to have a large amount of useful data available to citizens in an open manner, has made Open Data become another opportunity for entrepreneurial talent and for finding new business niches

Data has become a highly valued asset among all kinds of companies. So much so that in recent years, new business models have come into being that use open data as raw material for their activities. According to figures from the European Data Portal, up to 100,000 jobs related to Open Data will be created by 2020. Meteorology, language, traffic information or public tenders. Almost everything is susceptible of being turned into Open Data.

Open Data are those data that are available to everybody and that usually come from governments or supranational institutions such as the European Union (EU). For this type of information to be considered as open data, it must comply with certain characteristics, according to the Open Data handbook created by Open Knowledge International, a not-for-profit organisation whose aim is to enhance the value of Open Data and to ensure it reaches society. This document states that the data must be available in full and that the information published should be editable. In addition, its reuse and redistribution must be authorised, as well as it being universally accessible.

Open Data in Europe

With that in mind, many countries are making great efforts to make all possible data public and thus contribute to Open Data. It is a step that societies are insisting on, as they increasingly demand greater transparency in public administration. So concludes the 2017 European Union report on the maturity of open data in member states.

According to this document, EU countries have an average score of 72% for their preparedness to implement an open data policy, which is a higher percentage than that obtained in 2016 (57%). They also improved their score in terms of maturity of those data, which reached 76% in 2017. By combining these two variables, the report notes that in 2017 the European Union completed 73% of its Open Data process.

Despite the positive results of the EU as a whole, only three EU countries (France, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands) are among the top ten of the Open Data Barometer that examines Open Data on a global scale. This index measures the country’s preparedness in terms of Open Data, the implementation of open data programmes and the impact these are having on the world of business, politics and civil society.

Businesses from Open Data

Thanks to the implementation of Open Data programmes, governments have, to some extent, facilitated the start-up of businesses that use these open databases for their activities. Below, we outline some examples:

  • With ‘h’ or without ‘h’?

If you have to write an e-mail in English and you are doubting how to spell a word, Ludgwig will help you. This is an application that gathers text from newspapers, scientific publications and government documents in English to find an example of the word you’re looking for in context. The app can also be used as a translator. Free to use for some 12 searches a day, it has premium options and custom configurations for companies, which are a fundamental part of its business model.

  • Public tenders

Are you a company that is always late for public tenders? Tenderlake can help you so that that never happens again. This tool will alert you each time that a call for tenders is announced for which your company might bid. In addition, it provides information on which companies are awarded contracts in your sector and helps you to meet deadlines. The data that it uses relate to European Union tenders. Tenderlake has a 14-day free trial so that you can test their service.

  • Where shall we fill up today?

Choosing a petrol station depends on many factors: proximity, need, the price of fuel… This tool launched by technology consultancy Iteisa focuses on cost, collecting fuel prices from petrol stations across Spain. On ‘the price of fuel’ you can check how much it will cost you to fill your tank, depending on which establishment you go to. It uses open data published by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism.

  • Calculate the best route on public transport

Moovit, an app available for iOS and Android, boasts that it is the best public transport application in the world. Using different open databases, Moovit offers greater precision with timetables and also with the location of bus stops, for example. With more than 80 million users, the application is improved with the help of ‘mooviters’. In addition to advertising, the volume of data generated by this application can be sold to third parties and thus generate value.

  • The weather on your smartphone, thanks to Open Data

Are you one of those people that have a widget installed on your phone to check the weather forecast? Well, surprise! These types of applications are also the result of open data. Specifically, one of the most common, Accuweather, created in the United States, collects data from the State Meteorology Agency and replicates them on your phone according to your preferences.

  • The data of 163 million companies at your fingertips

In order to be considered open, data must also be able to be modified and even be grouped in different ways. This is what the portal Open Corporates does. It is the “world’s largest database of companies,” as they call themselves. The site consists of a search engine where you can type in the name of the company you want to find. Open Corporates offers everything from the name with which the company is registered to the publications in which it has appeared from the Official Gazette of the Mercantile Registry, for Spanish companies. What’s more, any user can add additional information.

The options for creating a business from Open Data are as varied as the open data that governments and institutions provide are different. The fact of using big data and putting huge amounts of data in an orderly and useful format can give rise to an app or a revolutionary tool. Have you got any ideas?

By Olga Rodríguez

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