Increasingly, governments are using the Web to provide easy access to government-generated data, and this week a European Union official suggested this could be more than a nod to greater government transparency. It could also be a huge economic driver.
PaidContent.org reported that the European Commission's digital agenda commissioner, Neelie Kroes, called data "the new gold." She was speaking at a press conference announcing an initiative that would force EU member nations to open up their data for use by citizens and business alike. It's worth noting that some already have.
In a related press release, the EC suggested that data could deliver a boost to the EU economy worth €40 billion (that's $52.35 billion US dollars). That's mighty valuable data indeed.
And there's a good chance Kroes is right. She is tapping into the phenomenon called Big Data. Large repositories of data like data warehouses are nothing new, but the idea of applying modern business analytics tools to large pools of public data, combining that with local business data, and applying specific tools to mash-up the data, surely is new -- and could help provide answers to business problems that were much more difficult (or impossible) to resolve without this technology. And this could help businesses of all sizes.
Providing public data to business has also been going on for years, as businesses have taken advantage of available data such as that from the US Census. But what's different is placing this data on public Websites and providing access to it in a format that businesses (and the public) can use to find answers to specific questions.
The US has been at the forefront of this. The data.gov site is a prime example of a resource where businesses, citizens, and advocacy groups can tap into a world of US government data -- for free.
If Tim Berners-Lee, the man behind the World Wide Web, has his way, we won't just be sharing links to Websites, we'll also be sharing large data sets on the Web to help one another solve complex problems.
In the TED video from 2010 shown below, Berners-Lee talks about real projects that have been generated using free data. These include a lawyer who used public data to illustrate racial inequities in water distribution in a small town in Ohio, and the Open Street Map project, which encouraged individuals to help build more accurate maps all around the world.
It’s not just governments getting into the act. There are growing pools of trusted data for sale, such as the Data.com Website, where, for a fee, businesses can tap into business data compiled by Salesforce.com.
One thing Berners-Lee's video clearly showed was that when you take data and mash it up with other tools such as maps, you can begin to see patterns that weren't apparent when viewing the raw data.
This could lead to business innovations and could result in a growing business ecosystem around data processing, analytics, mashup tools, and much more. And if that translates into more economic growth, the Web may be an even bigger economic engine than we had previously believed.
Sounds like a pretty good deal: more open government, access to growing pools of valuable data, and more jobs. What's not to like?
— Ron Miller is a freelance technology journalist, blogger, FierceContentManagement editor, and contributing editor at EContent magazine.
It's certainly the case that the U.S. -- including state, city, and county governments -- has been doing this, and I've written about it too. I'm surprised, though, that Europe, with its huge focus on data privacy and so on -- not that I disagree with them necessarily -- would go along with something like this. I guess money talks.
When data is aggregated in ONE place it becomes searchable by very sophisticated algorithms that can and do ferret out information that is supposedly anonymous.
As I have said and written about multiple times, there are scientists that have proven this. For example, they are able to determine a person's full SS number just from knowing the last four digits and having access to what is normally considered anonymized data.
This is more about the public record, stuff that's always been available if you knew how to look than anything sensitive, per se. What the data sharing approach does is enable folks from citizen advocacy groups to businesses to make better and more creative use of this data.
Yet, no one is listening to the experts who have proven time and time again: we cannot protect "big data". The fact that so many particulars are brought into one database -- regardless if it is sanitized -- will allow people to derive sensitive data that was supposedly anonymized.
I do agree that it's great to see the data available. There are plenty of good uses that people can derive out of it. However, are there no security concerns related to this? Could this data be used, potentially by foreign agencies, to harm the US in any way?
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Recently, the Obama administration has been of two minds where privacy rights are concerned. On one hand, you have an administration that vowed to veto CISPA and mandated open data for government websites. On the other hand, you have an increasingly out-of-control Department of Justice on a fishing expedition at AP and demanding legislation to let the FBI wiretap private, encrypted communications and levy fines if a company fails to comply.
These days, even some usually techno-friendly people have their hackles up about the potential of Google Glass to surreptitiously record video or take pictures. I've heard more than one tech savvy friend bring up "the creep factor," the ability of a weird guy to secretly record you.
Last year as you may recall, the Internet community rallied and prevented the passage of SOPA/PIPA legislation. CISPA, another piece of legislation that targeted Internet freedom, also died. However, one proposed law that failed in 2012 has been revived this year. And it appears forces are not now lining up against CISPA with the same enthusiasm as last time.
You might be surprised to learn that the FBI has generated hundreds of thousands of secret information requests since 2000, many of which go to Internet companies seeking information about individual users. You may be even more surprised to discover that in all those years, only one Internet company has challenged these secret requests.
Late Friday I learned I had been chosen to participate in the Google Glass Explorer's program, a group selected to take the first-generation of Google Glass out in the world and report back on how they're using the devices.
The new Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) initiative of operators is being run out of Europe's ETSI and not here in the United States, even though the issues have been here for five years. The US needs to step up; otherwise, it's surrendering leadership.
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Aneesh Chopra, the first federally appointed chief technology officer, discusses the Obama administration’s plans to help CTOs by improving the nation’s infrastructure, better harnessing research and development investments, and strengthening the country’s workforce; and how enterprise CTOs can assist the president with his tech agenda.
The whole Amazon.reader debate is a double-stupid. It's stupid to think that there's any e-book buyer who doesn't know Amazon's URL, and it was stupider to let ICANN launch the whole free-form TLD initiative to start with.
Enterprises would like to move to cloud computing but are hesitant because they are concerned about providers’ ability to secure company data. Here are some tips that help to ensure that if breaches occur, the business is not left holding the bag.
Edmunds separates customers into segments based on the info it collects on its site and from partners, and uses that to push out custom content, said Brian Baron, director of business analytics for Edmunds.com, at Predictive Analytics Innovation Summit.
The automotive website uses propensity modeling to target ads and customer registration forms, said Brian Baron, director of business analytics for Edmunds.com, at Predictive Analytics Innovation Summit.
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