For public consumption: the promise of big—and open—data

28 January 2013 | Parul Bhandari, Government Lead, Open Data and Big Data

Open data and big data are two hot topics on the minds of government leaders worldwide. As citizens ask more questions and governments try to gain deeper insights, the volume of data being released is growing at a rapid pace. Whether it is petabytes of data from the U.K. Meteorological Office or smaller amounts of data from a city or municipality, a lot of records are annually released by governments, creating a goldmine of potential value for those able to dig in deeper. By making sense of open data, governments can make more informed decisions to support their constituents, operate more efficiently, and promote economic growth for a successful, sustainable economy—a sentiment shared by analysts at Gartner.

Many countries are already realizing the potential of their data by holding events and contests. For example, the U.K. government recently created the Open Data Institute to identify valuable public data, collaborate with data-savvy start-ups, and help both public and private sectors work with open data. The Institute was formed using innovation vouchers from the government, distributed to help companies develop new ideas and products using public data. The United States is also taking steps to leverage open data through a series of "Datapalooza" events that aim to generate innovative ideas and solutions from public data, such as the Energy Datapalooza. In addition, the United Nations and World Bank are looking to use the power of open data and big data to better support human wellbeing.

As governments continue to take steps forward to make sense of their massive amounts of data, there is no doubt that these actions will yield large dividends in the future. And, today, we’re already seeing instances of this. For example, the Thai law enforcement agency has leveraged big data to dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes to conduct investigations.

There’s no doubt that open data and big data are here to stay, and according to IDC Government Insights, big data deployments are expected to grow by more than 30 percent in 2013. By tapping into big data and making it open where possible, governments stand to reap enormous value, insights, and greater transparency and public engagement overall.

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Parul Bhandari
Government Lead, Open Data and Big Data

About the Author

Parul Bhandari | Government Lead, Open Data and Big Data

Parul Bhandari works closely with governments worldwide to develop IT strategies that promote greater insights and accountability, as well as to support forming more transparent and open government.