Big Data, Big New Businesses

Many people have long believed that if government and the private sector agreed to share their data freely, and allow it to be processed using the right analytics, previously unimaginable solutions to countless social, economic, and commercial problems would emerge. But they may have no idea how right they are.

LONDON – Many people have long believed that if government and the private sector agreed to share their data more freely, and allow it to be processed using the right analytics, previously unimaginable solutions to countless social, economic, and commercial problems would emerge. They may have no idea how right they are.

Even the most vocal proponents of open data appear to have underestimated how many profitable ideas and businesses stand to be created. More than 40 governments worldwide have committed to opening up their electronic data – including weather records, crime statistics, transport information, and much more – to businesses, consumers, and the general public. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that the annual value of open data in education, transportation, consumer products, electricity, oil and gas, health care, and consumer finance could reach $3 trillion.

These benefits come in the form of new and better goods and services, as well as efficiency savings for businesses, consumers, and citizens. The range is vast. For example, drawing on data from various government agencies, the Climate Corporation (recently bought for $1 billion) has taken 30 years of weather data, 60 years of data on crop yields, and 14 terabytes of information on soil types to create customized insurance products.

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