How open data creates citizen outcomes and markets worth billions
Richard Thaler on the value of open data for citizens and the ability to create new markets. No brainer to do more of this.
Example one: GPS. Now we all have our phones that tell us how to find things. That’s how I found you in your hotel here from my hotel. We forget where does that come from. The government sent up satellites as part of the Defense Department initiative. Twenty years ago, in the Clinton Administration, they made the decision to make those data available to the public. Originally they added a little bit of error, but then they got rid of that.
They provide that data for free and that’s the way our cars tell us where to go, our phones tell us where to go. All the government had to do to generate this hundreds of billions of dollars a year industry was to take data they already owned and give it away to the marketplace, and then let the market work its magic. That’s example one.
Example two, somebody in the Bay Area gets the bright idea they know where all the buses and trains are. There’s some control room in the basement of some building with lights beeping and things going around. They decide, why not put the data about where all the buses are, which have GPS locators on them, why don’t we put that up in the Cloud? That costs nothing. They’re just sharing the data that they’re monitoring in real time. So they put it up in the Cloud.
A few months later, somebody develops an app called Routesy and now you stand on a corner with your smartphone and it will tell you when the next bus is going to come. If it’s broken down a mile away or there’s some accident and it’s never going to get there, you’re going to know. That’s true now in most major cities around the world. Again, it came from the government taking data they had, making it freely available and then the private sector figuring out how to do something with it.
At an Australian level a recently released report by Lateral Economics which is headed by Nicholas Gruen (Chair of TACSI, where I work) provides some massive numbers.
What’s #G20opendata worth to the Oz economy? A cool $16 Bil p.a. Lateral Economics report launched breakfast today Parliament House
— Nicholas Gruen (@NGruen1) June 18, 2014