Since the EU adopted the directive concerning the Reuse of Public Sector Information, local authorities across Europe have attempted with varying degrees of success to comply with rules that are intended to allow companies to exploit the value of public sector data to contribute to economic growth.
An undoubted leader in this field is Fingal Council in Ireland.
Since the fall of 2010 alone, they have released over 70 datasets.
Many of these were made available for the Open Data Challenge. This was an 18-hour event instigated by the Irish Internet Association and organised by the NDRC. It took place at the Digital Hub in Dublin.
Dr. Teresa Dillon and her team created an environment for over 120 people to come together and assemble themselves into ad-hoc teams to take on the challenge.
In her opening remarks Teresa said that, “There is an essential need for transparency and accountability from our governments. We also have the right to know how and where our tax money is spent.
“We think this area is so exciting because there is the potential for products and services that can draw on and use this data.”
Participants were distributed across tables according to their skillsets.
After briefings from the organizers, the teams discussed the potential ideas that could be had from the datasets that had been provided. These included such areas as water, environment and waste data information.
As evening approached, good ideas were voted in, and bad ideas were voted out and were unceremoniously removed from the workspace walls.
On the second day the focus was on creating a commercially-valid product.
The ultimate winner of the competition was a team called Bizfit consisting of (L-R) Mark Kearns, judging panel, NDRC, Conor Calahane, Robb Mitchell, Annette Farrell, Gary Leeson, Udo Reubach and Sandra Garcia. (Main banner pic by Ian Pearse.)
The idea was for a website that uses demographic and other open source data to match
a business with its optimum location.
Dr. Teresa Dillon commented, “It’s clear that with the right tools and freer access to data, there is the potential for ideas-led business growth. We hope an initiative such as this, sends a message to other Councils and Government bodies that open data is a resource and as such it has economic potential.”