The GovLab @ NYU Releases Preview of the First Comprehensive Study of Companies Using Open Government Data

OD500 ScreenshotDECEMBER 17, 2013 – The Governance Lab (The GovLab) today released an initial list of just over 500 “open data companies” –companies powered at least in part by open government data. This list, published on the new website, demonstrates the wide range of valuable applications open government data is supporting in multiple economic sectors.  The list is part of the GovLab’s Open Data 500 study, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which is designed to identify, describe, and analyze companies that use open government data in their businesses. Open data is free, public data that anyone can use to launch commercial and nonprofit ventures, do research, make data-driven decisions, and solve complex problems.

The goal of the Open Data 500 Project is to:

  • Provide a basis for assessing the value of open government data
  • Help raise awareness among businesses of the value of open government data ; and
  • Foster a dialogue between government and business on how government data can be made more useful.

In addition to publishing the list of 500 “open data companies,” which is now online and available for free download, the GovLab also posted in-depth profiles of 50 of these companies – a sample of the detailed information that will be available when the final Open Data 500 study is published in early 2014. In the spirit of openness, the GovLab is inviting the public, experts, and companies themselves to comment on specific businesses that are candidates for the final list, on issues in the use of open data, and on ideas for the study itself. Preliminary results from the study show the following:

  • Economic value: Open Data is a significant resource for businesses across the U.S.
  • Covering many sectors: These Open Data companies are building economic value in many parts of the economy, including health, energy, transportation, finance, and others.
  • Large and small, old and new: The list of companies includes startups and established businesses, ranging in size from one-person operations to companies with thousands of employees.
  • Many ways to succeed: These companies are using a range of business models, including advertising, revenue from sales of services, and others.
  • Making government data work better: Open Data companies use state, city, and many kinds of federal data – and their experience ranges from excellent to frustrating.  Through the Open Data 500 study, companies are providing candid feedback on their experience with government data, which the GovLab plans to use to start a new dialogue between data suppliers and data users.

“Our working list of companies reflects the fact that open government data is a key business resource for new and existing companies around the country, and is being used in a variety of ways and across many sectors,” said Joel Gurin, senior advisor at the GovLab and director of the Open Data 500 study. Gurin is also the author of the new book Open Data Now, to be published in January 2014.

“The Open Data 500 study embodies the goals and work of the GovLab,” said Beth Simone Noveck, the GovLab’s founder and director. “The mission of the GovLab is to improve people’s lives by changing how we govern, using advances in science and technology. With the huge advances in data science that we’re seeing today, national, state, and local governments have an opportunity to release data that can immediately be put to use for business, research, and job creation.” Open U.S. government data such as weather, safety and public health data is now made freely available to the public and used for commercial and noncommercial purposes.

In-depth profiles of 500 U.S.-based open-data companies will be available in early 2014 to illuminate this growing part of the economy. “We will update our study continually as new companies start up and we gather more information,” said Joel Gurin. “And we expect to branch out to study the use of open data in other areas as well.”

In addition to the current study:

  • The GovLab is beginning a parallel study of UK-based companies that use open government data in collaboration with the London-based Open Data Institute.
  • Representatives of more than a dozen other nations have expressed interest in working with the GovLab to adapt the study to their countries.
  • The GovLab is exploring collaborations with state government to study open data companies on a state by state basis.
  • The Open Data 500 team is collecting examples of nonprofit organizations that use open data, for a possible future study.
  • Finally, the GovLab is planning to use the results of the Open Data 500 study to improve the use of government data – for example, by presenting the results to IT leaders in government, convening companies together with government agencies that provide their data, or setting up online groups and forums on how government data can be made more useful.


Joel Gurin, senior advisor, the GovLab and project director, Open Data 500:

Stefaan Verhulst, chief of research and development, the GovLab: Cell: 646-573-1361

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One Response to “The GovLab @ NYU Releases Preview of the First Comprehensive Study of Companies Using Open Government Data”

  1. Bruce Joffe December 19, 2013 at 8:48 pm #

    The study mentions Open Data’s significant benefit to companies, but have you any information on the benefit to the public agencies which create and provide the data? Have you any statistics on the benefit in terms in increased tax revenues to county governments, for instance, derived from open distribution of their geographic data?

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