Open data will provide growth opportunities for British businesses

People in the UK are embracing Open Government Data, but are using it less effectively than other countries. That’s according to a new report launched today by the Economist Intelligence Unit and Singapore’s Government Technology Agency, which assesses how people around the world are using open data and the benefits they expect it to bring to society.

The report, entitled Open Government Data: Assessing demand around the world, is based on a survey of 1,000 people—100 from 10 different countries (UK, US, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Finland, Mexico, Australia, France and India)—all of whom were familiar with the concept of Open Government Data, such as public transport information and weather forecasts.

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Globally, the report results were positive with eight in 10 respondents (78%) believing Open Government Data can improve the lives of citizens and three-fifths (61%) believing it generates economic value through social innovation. Yet despite 52% of Brits believing open data can help improve their daily lives, uptake has been slow, especially compared with early-adopters in Asia.

Only 18% of UK respondents have used OGD data in the last 12 months (compared to 1 in 3 in Singapore), and only 12% of people in the UK are using OGD to create new businesses, compared to nearly a third globally (peaking at 30% in South Korea and India).

Barriers to adoption

Despite this global promise, the report identified a number of challenges stopping people from using OGD effectively.

>See also: Open banking: a financial revolution?

Awareness remains the biggest barrier, with half of respondents (49%) in the UK saying there is not enough understanding in their country of OGD initiatives and their benefits.

Worryingly, 31% of UK respondents believe they lack the technical skills to effectively use OGD data, while over a quarter (27%) of UK respondents pinpointed a lack of usable data that is relevant to public needs as a leading barrier, meaning government organisations need to do more to provide this information.

Opportunities for governments

The report also revealed that 70% of respondents believe Open Government Data helps stimulate trust between citizens and government. Yet challenges remain and 19% of respondents are concerned about cyber security and their government’s ability to keep their data safe.

In the UK, 32% of those surveyed feel OGD helps improve governance e.g. government transparency – this is slightly less than the 37% global average.

>See also: UK Government invests £6M in data innovation

“People have grand expectations of the benefits of OGD. It is not just about getting to work faster, but about the longer term environmental and economic benefits,” says Charles Ross, the editor responsible for the survey.

“It is interesting to see that OGD is seen as a genuine driver of innovation with nearly a third of respondents looking to use it to setup a new business. But governments need to invest in education and raising awareness if they are to further stimulate demand and capitalise on this opportunity.”


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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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