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Open Data – How can open data benefit society

Open Data – How can open data benefit society

The event referenced in this article has now passed. For more information about Derilinx and their open data events, please visit their website.

Next week, I will be a panellist at an event in Dublin discussing how Open Data can help our environment as part of The Open Data Impact Series. The Open Data Impact Series promotes awareness, adoption and use of Open Data in different sectors, and supports the publication of high-quality Open Data.

How can open data benefit society?

Open data refers to data sources that are available within the public domain. The range of data types currently available is highly diverse.  Examples include scientific measurements made by public bodies such as meteorological data and water quality, geographic data such as traffic and highway infrastructure and public information such as lobbying and court records.


A major benefit of open data is that it allows a wider pool of people who are interested in solving social challenges to bring new ideas to the problem.  This pool of people has a much wider range of skills than any single organisation can have.  These skills could be analytical, such as familiarity with the latest machine learning techniques or technical, such as the ability to create web apps.


Early-stage experimentation is crucial in developing innovative new approaches to problems.  However, funding such hit-and-miss efforts is often a challenge for public bodies who face demands for accountability with public funds. Open data encourages early-stage experimentation as people can experiment with ideas in private or at public events such as hackathons without the pressure of delivering a finished product.

If these efforts show promise the developers can then go on to develop a start-up or participate in innovation competitions run by public sector bodies that are charged with addressing the challenge.  By opening up the data to new ideas the rate of progress on thorny issues can be greatly increased.


Open data can also have direct benefits for the organisations that release it.  Data in large organisations – public or private – is often difficult to access due to internal silos.  By opening data externally, organisations are ensuring that data is also open internally.

Similar advantages accrue for organisations that engage with the open data community. For example, initial efforts at open data often focus on putting spreadsheets online. Progressive organisations respond to community feedback by making their data available through API connections that allow easier data access. Open data users often test the data quality and can provide feedback on errors in the dataset that an organisation uses. By engaging with the open data community in a responsive way, organisations can increase the accessibility and quality of their data both internally and externally.


Analytics Engines have provided digital transformation solutions to both the public and private sector, often making use of open data sources. If you’d like to find out how we can support you on your data journey, contact us using the form below.

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by PJ Kirk

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