Data management

Private sector should move to open data model

Kathleen Hall

The private sector could benefit from opening up datasets to developers and third parties, according to business advisory firm Deloitte.

Harvey Lewis, director at Deloitte said open data creates opportunities for innovation in both the public and private sectors. “The government and the private sector have to realise that data by itself does not create value," he said. "Other organisations and individuals need to analyse datasets to create innovations. Over time, companies will be encouraged to release their data publicly.”

Lewis said the private sector is beginning to follow the government’s lead in opening up data, citing the example of insurance companies sharing information on fraudsters. “I can see that extending out between industries. Expecting the private sector to release data all at once would be a step too far, but opening up more information to the public is the logical conclusion,” he said.

Deloitte has released a report which values the release of open data as a significant economic stimulus to the UK’s economy. It follows the government’s creation of an Open Data Institute designed to help businesses use open data effectively – the Data Strategy Board, to oversee funding of the project, and the Public Data Group, which will house datasets from four main government agencies. 

Concerns over open data policy

But some campaigners for open data have said the government’s plans do not go far enough, claiming that key datasets will remain locked, such as the national address dataset held by the Ordnance Survey. Currently, companies are still forced to pay between £16,562 and £132,599 to access the OS Address Point database. 

Privacy issues have also been raised with regard to the recent opening up of anonymised healthcare datasets to commercial interests. Privacy activists have warned that the release of datasets could lead to jigsaw identification of citizens.

“Public leaders and government managers should seek to identify, mitigate and manage potential risks to stay ahead of them,” said Costi Perricos, public sector analytics leader at Deloitte.

“There is tremendous potential for using mashups, crowdsourcing and other techniques to transform data into meaningful knowledge – the sort of ‘big insights’ that will help to unlock growth,” he added.


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