Government offices, research institutions and others collect and maintain massive amounts of data for a wide range of functions — the economy, transportation, public safety, public services, the environment and the operation of government itself. The more accessible, discoverable, and usable this data is, the more impact it can have — improved transparency and accountability, cost savings, a stimulus for business, informed policy, and increased public participation.
Open data is accessible, free of cost, and an online data source that anyone can benefit from. It can be used, reused, and distributed freely for personal or group benefit. Primarily, the purpose of open data is to empower communities and to support new horizons of research and development. In this blog, we will take a closer look at the potential positive impact of open data in empowering communities and fostering economic development.
Open Data and its Beneficial Aspects
Open data is a resource that helps government bodies, businesses, and the general public grow and expand their horizon. Following are some of the beneficial aspects of open data that showcase how it plays a key role in communities’ growth and development:
- Improving Community Practices
Open data creates an environment of uninterrupted data accessibility and shareability, which facilitates collaboration among and within communities. They can work on common problems, have open discussions, and easily share the data with one another hassle-free. Overall, open data increases their capabilities and can play a key role in improving their practices.
- Economic Growth and Development
The potential for economic growth receives a boost if communities are contributing their part effectively. For example, open data can enable a closer examination of different aspects of a region’s economy which can in turn identify potential business opportunities that will contribute to that region’s overall development and prosperity. When communities have access to open data, they can spend less time researching the facts and figures because someone else already has and focus instead on creating solutions. Similarly, when data is accessible to everyone, the entire community can play its part in filling the gaps. This leads to the economic growth of communities as a whole.
- Fostering Research
Data holds tremendous potential to address the present societal challenges, not only at the macro scale but also at the smaller, community level. But the value of data in research and development is associated with its availability and shareability, which are very well addressed with open data practices. Open data creates an environment that enables researchers to share and leverage already available to data and thereby more rapidly advance their own research work. This acceleration of the research processes opens doors for innovation and advancement.
- Collaboration and Trust
Open data renders everything clear and transparent. This fosters trust among communities and constituencies as it enables them to work together for the betterment of the community. When there is trust among and between people and government bodies, it boosts both individual and group growth. It also enhances data literacy and democracy among the people and community on the whole.
- Equal Chances of Growth
If knowledge is power and knowledge is derived from data, then open data promotes equality among different socio-economic classes of the community and puts everyone on an equal level. Through shared data sources, everyone can get access to facts and figures and can benefit from them. This helps developed sectors further refine their research processes, while the underprivileged are afforded the same access and can participate on an equal level as the developed sectors.
Open data is not a new concept in developed countries. They are benefitting from it for years and using it for the development and growth of their communities. But with the unprecedented growth of data in the past two decades alone and the potential value data holds for the community and economic growth, many developing and underdeveloped countries are also opting for open data practices. We live in an increasingly data-driven era where data is recognized by many as more valuable than oil. Therefore, to empower communities, foster research, and see economic growth, there is a need to make valuable data open, shareable, and reusable at the local level.