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Open Data Index

10 Insights on the Value of Open Data

Posted on 21st of April 2020 by The Govlab

Open Data Index
Open Data Index

What’s the value of open data? For the last few years, The GovLab has curated and identified hundreds of studies on the use and value of opening up data while conducting numerous detailed case studies seeking to understand what makes open data impactful (See the summary of findings of these case studies here).

For the launch of the Open Data Policy Lab, we went through these studies again and selected 10 insights that have statistical and numerical evidence and estimates on the wide-ranging value of open data — with a particular focus on open government data.

The below is not meant to be comprehensive. We focused on the available quantifiable statistics describing open data’s value (and its potential) instead of anecdotal and qualitative evidence. There are many more use cases for open data — see, for instance, the State of Open Data as well as our book The Global Impact of Open Data for a comprehensive overview of the use of open data.

In subsequent blogs, we will consider the potential risks and limitations of open data, as well as the conditions and policies needed to unlock and increase the value of re-using data at the local, state and national levels. The 10 insight include:

1. Opening data can fuel economic growth

  • The estimated increase in GDP resulting from opening up public data in the United Kingdom: 0.4–1.4%
  • Indirect social and economic benefits of public sector information in the UK:: GBP 6.8 billion
  • Direct value of (open) public sector information in the UK: GBP 1.8 billion
  • Average annual growth in data investment in Canada from 2015 to 2018: 6.2%, as compared to the average annual growth in machinery and equipment (+2.2%), non-residential buildings (+2.0%), engineering structures (-4.7%) and research and development (+0.5%)
  • The global annual value open data could be generated across seven key sectors (education, transportation, consumer products, electricity, oil and gas, health care, and consumer finance): USD 3 trillion
  • The value of the stock of data, databases, and data science in Canada in 2018: CAD 217 billion
  • Estimated aggregate direct and indirect economic benefits of open public sector information among the EU27 in 2008: EUR 200 billion
  • The contribution of open data policies to Australia’s cumulative GDP growth: AUD 16 billion per annum.

2. Open data can increase institutional accountability

  • Reduction of the costs of corruption, by both reducing its private returns and making it easier to detect, through open data: 10%
  • Percent of US adults who believe open data will improve government accountability: 66%
  • Amount of unlawful fines discovered through the analysis of open data from the New York City Police Department: USD 1.7 million
  • Increase in press coverage about public procurement oversight in Slovakia following the opening of the country’s government contracting data: 25%
  • Impact of publicly released audit reports revealing corruption on the likelihood of reelection for incumbent mayors in Brazil: -7% on average; -14% for municipalities with three violations

3. Open data can improve public services

4. Open data can increase public revenues

  • Public sector cost savings in the European Union resulting from the use of open data in the development of automatic neural machine translation: EUR 1.1 billion
  • The estimated economic value of opening access to the Australia Bureau of Statistics’ data and publications: AUD $25 million
  • Amount of money saved by the city of San Francisco per year after opening up real-time transit data: USD 1 million
  • Hours saved in public transport in the EU by the opening of real-time public transport data: 27 million hours

5. Open data can improve health and the health sector

  • The decrease in infections in the United Kingdom following the opening up of the infection statistics of all hospitals and the hospitals with the worst infection status: 5,000 patients to fewer than 1,200 annually
  • Reduction in central line-associated bloodstream infections in the United States following the implementation of mandatory public reporting of hospital-acquired infections: 46%
  • The time required to produce district-level childhood obesity surveillance report after the New York health officials made the state’s Student Weight Status Category Reporting data available openly: From two years to one
  • The estimated annual value of the United Kingdom’s National Health Services’ datasets to the United Kingdom: GBP 5 billion
  • The estimated annual value of the United Kingdom’s National Health Services’ datasets to patients: GBP 4.6 billion
  • Healthcare costs saved in the EU28+ due to faster first aid by bystanders enabled by open-data based CPR guidance apps: EUR 312,000–400,000

6. Open data can create jobs, and decrease labor costs

  • The estimated amount of newly created open data jobs in the EU28+ between 2016 and 2020: 25,000
  • Labor costs saved in the EU28+ due to reducing time stuck in traffic with real-time traffic navigation based on open data: EUR 13.7–20 billion

7. Open data can increase energy efficiency

8. Open data can improve the value of research

  • Cost of time spent searching for research data that is not Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR) in the European Union: EUR 4.5 billion per year
  • Cost from redundant storage of non-FAIR research data: EUR 5.3 billion per year
  • Cost from license costs of non-FAIR research data: EUR 360 million per year
  • Cost from retractions of non-FAIR research: EUR 4.4 million per year
  • Annual value identified by the European Bioinformatics Institute to users and funders from making scientific information freely available to the global life-science community: EUR 1.3 billion
  • Increase in citations to research papers with underlying data made openly accessible relative those using closed data: 25%
  • The estimated annual value generated from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s Data Access Portal: AUD 67 million annually
  • The annual value of data in Australia’s public research, based on 2011 expenditures and activity: AUD 1.9–6 billion

9. Open data can create economic value in the geospatial sector

  • Economic value from the use of UK’s National Mapping Agency Ordnance Survey data: GBP 100 billion
  • Estimated annual tax revenue in the commercial weather service sector in Europe, resulting from the opening up of meteorological data: EUR 300 million
  • Direct financial benefits of opening access to address data for the period 2005–2009 to the people of Denmark: EUR 62 million
  • The estimated annual economic benefit to the United States if Landsat data was made openly available: USD 1.8 billion
  • Rate of annual growth among architectural and engineering firms in countries where geographic data is available at marginal cost prices or free of charge: 15% higher than firms in countries without open geographic data.

10. Open data can enable social justice

  • Size of the settlement awarded to African American residents of Zanesville, Ohio after open GIS data helped prove access to clean water was inequitable along racial lines: USD 10.9 million
  • The amount of police stops made transparent by open data and provided by, which has led to a decrease in the number of searches and use of force at stops: Over 49 million stops
  • New funding raised by Beyond the Bell, an education and social justice organization in Australia by documenting changes in community needs since 2012 using open data applications: AUD 450,000

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