It seems that almost everywhere we look, we find data. It’s in the tracking of our movements via our phones, it’s in what we buy, the emails we send and receive, and it’s in the social networks we use to connect with friends, families and communities. It’s also in the work we do, the timetables and calendars we keep and the card access systems we swipe to get to work. It is everywhere – and nowhere at the same time. In fact, data has become ubiquitous – and quite invisible to us.

While we as individuals, businesses and citizens generate and collect all kinds of data – so too do governments around the world. And increasingly this information is being shared with the world. This movement is known as “open data”, The World Bank has identified a range of benefits of open data, including:

  • Transparency – public oversight of institutions, monitoring of government activity and engagement with government affairs
  • Public service improvement – access to data allows the population to engage in public planning and feedback sessions
  • Innovation and economic value – Businesses, social institutions and entrepreneurs can use open data to better understand and assess potential markets and the development of data-driven products
  • Efficiency – helping to make government departments more efficient through access and use of data.

When you start digging, you will find that the information and data sets that are available to us all can be quite surprising – and super useful.

For example, overlaying proprietary data (ie yours) with Census and forecasting data will allow you to identify current demographic information – and then project that forward to identify shifts in demand and opportunity. Overlaying your healthcare business location information with – hospital locations for example – can help determine whether the market is being over-serviced, or whether there is an implicit demand for more services.

The list of opportunities can go on. And on.

Our list of open data sources around the world will evolve over time, but is starting out with:

  • Australia + New Zealand
  • Asia
  • Europe
  • Middle East
  • North America
  • South America
  • International
  • Tools.

Be sure to send through other sources that you know of!