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2016 trends series: Open data is finally taking off

Written by: Nils Mork-Ulnes

Published on: April 1, 2016

We have collated 10 trends that we think are reshaping digital in 2016. This is the fifth installment of our series which looks at things that are happening now in Q1, whilst identifying trends to look out for in the rest of the year.

You may already be familiar with many of the trends we highlight in this series, but the cycle of innovation and iteration that our industry is known for means existing concepts can suddenly find radically new trajectories. In this series, we highlight ten ideas that are gaining rapid traction today, and which will reshape how we digitally interact with the world around us.

To help you organize your priorities for the trends in this series, we have sorted them as “trends to prepare for now” and “trends to start thinking about”.

Our fifth installment is a trend to prepare for now:

Open data is finally taking off


Six years ago America 
became the first country to make all data collected by its government “open by default” – except for personal information and that related to national security.

Now 70 countries have made their data relating to transport, crime, property tax records and much more available to the general public. Although around 1 million datasets have been published to open data portals, historically much of it was poorly labeled, disorganized, lacking context and seldom updated. We are seeing a growing trend of ‘open-data hackathons’ that connect data custodians with analysts, coders, and entrepreneurs. These cross-functional teams look to create successful businesses by comparing different data sets to provide valuable information to end users.

Property website Zillow, GPS company Garmin and the route planning app Citymapper are just three examples of multi-million-pound businesses built using free government data.

A large number of startups have been founded on the basis of exploiting these new data sets. For example, we recently worked with a startup that developed machine learning algorithms that use WHO data sets to solve medical insurance problems. We have probably only seen the start of this and there will be many more new ventures that will find new ways to create value through open data.

You can find the whole series here: