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Nine ways to fix UK business challenges with open data

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Open data is shareable information that can be freely accessed by individuals, businesses and organisations alike, with the hope of dispelling common problems in the workplace and society.

As industry leaders have assembled to discuss the UK’s open data and transparency policy, the ODI – which is a government-funded body charged with the task of spreading data knowledge and support nationwide – has released a new roadmap for the government that it believes will provide huge benefits.

The ODI recommends that a chief data officer role should be created for the Cabinet Office to develop and advocate a new data strategy, while their should be greater investment around data training for companies.

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It added that while good progress has been made so far in the UK to make it rank as the number one globally for data leadership, there are big challenges that need to be addressed. These include improving infrastructure in cities to support apps and innovations; enhancing the efficiency of public services and  supporting weather warning communications for emergency limitation.

Another rather key challenge that can be overcome with more open data is increasing the economy with new businesses, as the technology has allowed startups to create health savings, smart cities, energy efficiency, 3D printing and disabled community support – the ODI startup scheme has generated £2.5m of income from clients including national and international businesses, and government departments.

The nine recommendations in full are: 

Continue to build a coherent open data strategy
The central government has stimulated a range of activities around open data. Now is the time to connect and focus them.

1. Clearly embed open data within a wider data strategy
2. Appoint a chief data officer for government to oversee this data strategy
3. Build data publication into everything the Government Digital Service does

Open up more socially and economically beneficial data 
The UK government has published a lot of open data, but it still holds important datasets that are ‘closed’. These datasets could have significant social and economic benefits if released as high-quality open data. 

4. Support UK trading funds to release more closed datasets as open data 
5. Use the National Information Infrastructure as a tool to plan for future releases  
6. Include the release of open data in public procurement contracts

Support even more reuse of open data
Across the UK, businesses, researchers, citizens and public bodies already rely on open data to deliver products and services and help lower costs, often without realising. With a clear UK data strategy, the number of businesses, research projects, innovative services and new ways of interpreting open data will continue to flourish. 

7. Commit to data training for government, business and citizens
8. Incentivise government to consume open data, not just publish it
9. Connect research and development frameworks to open data

Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt, chairman and co-founder of the ODI, said: “Open data is the raw material for open innovation. In open innovation anyone can find the value in open data. We have seen individuals,  startups, SMEs, FTSE 100 companies, local and national government all create value from open data. 

“Our open data Roadmap explains what has to be done to keep the UK world-leading in this area. It requires continued commitment at the highest levels of government. It needs business to make more of both the government and its own open data. It needs an information infrastructure that contains the best open data to give the UK a digital nervous system fit for the 21st century.”

Image via Shutterstock.

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