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ODI examines cities’ access to private sector data


Mark Say Managing Editor

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The Open Data Institute (ODI) has begun to collect examples of how cities around the world access data held by the private sector.

It is making the effort as part of its ongoing three-year Open Cities project, which includes a stream on open data along with work on infrastructure, standards, open government and open source.

This includes questions around whether cities have access to data from private sector organisations that operate within them, how they access it and for what purpose. It also takes in the challenges and why the private sector would make the data available.

To support this, the ODI has begun to collect the examples using a matrix inspired by the Cabinet Office Policy Lab’s Styles of Government tool, which breaks down government interventions into different groups.

It has also opened up a Google document for the collection and said it is encouraging contributions and comments.

Value and difficulty

The project reflects the widespread awareness that private sector bodies hold large volumes of data that could be valuable for re-use by local and regional authorities and third parties, but that it is often difficult to obtain because of a perceived commercial value.

The ODI stated: “We plan to have conversations in the coming months with people and organisations involved in data sharing between private sector organisations and cities to validate what we find and add richer detail. We’ll publish our findings openly and also assess whether it would be useful to develop any guidance on the topic.

“Ultimately, we hope that the outputs of this work will help cities understand how others gain access to the data they need and inform their own approaches to accessing data held by the private sector. We’d also like it to encourage private sector organisations to consider how they can provide access to data it in order to tackle the big challenges that our cities face.”

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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