Virgin Media and Which? partner with the Open Data Institute

Virgin Media and consumer watchdog Which? have become the first major private-sector collaborators of the Open Data Institute (ODI)

Virgin Media and consumer watchdog Which? have become the first major private-sector collaborators of the Open Data Institute (ODI).

The ODI was given £10m by the government, via the Technology Strategy Board, to stimulate economic growth in open data by working with private-sector partners and acting as an incubator for SMEs.

The government funding has a five year window, with the ODI seeking commercial independent ahead of the timeframe closing. In December, the ODI secured $750,000 from global philanthropic investor Omidyar Network.

Nigel Shadbolt, co-founder and chairman of the ODI, said: “These two new relationships signify a key moment for the ODI and demonstrate that open data is crucial to the future success of brands.”

The ODI will help Virgin Media develop in-house expertise, explore aggregated and anonymous usage patterns. Virgin will provide broadband services to the ODI.

It will work with Which? to develop information and comparison tools for public sector services to inform consumer decisions, for example in health and social care.

Virgin Media’s chief operating officer, Andrew Barron, said the move would help create a collaborative data culture between the company and its customers.  

Executive director of Which? Richard Lloyd said: “Endless pages of data and statistics can be difficult to understand and are overwhelming for consumers: it's not always obvious how it can help them make more informed decisions.

“We look forward to working with the ODI to understand better how to develop tools that bring open data to life to give consumers greater control and choice over the services they use and fully realise the benefits of greater transparency.”

The ODI’s commercial director Stuart Coleman said: “Opening data in the private sector has been on the rise for some time - opening the right data and in the right format relevant to your business is the critical point. Nike opened supply-chain data to improve efficiency, reduce environmental impacts and build customer trust; GitHub accelerates innovation and code development through an open collaborative approach.

“There are many advantages, including increasing the marketing reach of products and services; leveraging the inspiration and innovation from the crowd in your market; and driving trust with customers and partners.”

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