Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Make Best Use of Your Data

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Make Best Use of Your Data

Article excerpt


RECENTLY, the Cabinet Office announced new funding to accelerate the benefits of open data.

The PS8m of complimentary measures have been created in a bid to help public bodies release data so that companies can harness new, commercial opportunities and drive innovation ... something vital in the current economic climate.

This includes a PS7.5m Data Strategy Breakthrough Fund, which public sector bodies can apply to, to release data, and an PS850,000 open Data Immersion Programme which companies can apply for to help use data to innovate and create new products or services.

The Immersion Programme will also include events and competitions run by The Open Data Institute (ODI) to help give SMEs and startups the tools to understand the commercial opportunities within data.

This funding follows on from the initiation of the founding of in 2009, and the Open Public Services white paper from 2011. The latest announcement from the Cabinet Office highlights the fact that previously released data is not having the effect it was supposed to.

Data is very much on the agenda for businesses in 2013. However, regional firms might do well to be cautious. Open data initiatives and experiments make data legally available to communities, businesses and citizens. However, open data is just that - data. Data in itself is not enough. This is not just a technical matter of tools (important as they are), it is also a matter of building the capacity of a business to use these tools for specific purposes.

Our research in the area of public sector information suggests that businesses need to ensure they have the skills and capacities for interpretations in order to exploit the power of this open data effectively. Data must be interpreted to be of use, and interpretation is always a function of a collective: from prior experience and knowledge, or as an active and mutual process.

Our research also revealed that opening up the "flow" of data requires conversations between people to ensure interpretations are appropriate. …

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