We are heading towards a datafied society.  More data have been produced in the last two years than in the entirety of human history. By 2020, more than 1.7 megabytes of new data will be created every second of everyday.  Yet, we are not fully benefitting from this huge amount of actionable knowledge. Indeed, not even the 0.5% of the data we store is analysed or used.

This blog aims to provide a global overview of how open data initiatives have been implemented around the world.

The Open Data Barometer, a composite index developed by the World Wide Web Foundation, aims to uncover the prevalence and impact of open data initiatives around the planet. It ranks 92 nations in terms of readiness for open data initiatives, their implementation and their impact on business, politics and civil society.

The last edition found out that the UK ranks first in any aspect taken into consideration, with an overall score of 100/100.

Open Data Barometer Ranking 2015

If we break down the data and look at them more carefully, we can see that the United Kingdom’s position as open data world leader is further cemented. Indeed, the country ranks first in terms of Readiness, Implementation and Impact.


By readiness, the Open Data Barometer considers the capacity of the government to ensure the availability of open data over the long term, both at national and subnational levels. Not only this, the measure takes into consideration the level of citizen’s empowerment in using open data and the capacity of businesses to benefit from them.


Are governments keeping up with the pace of their promises? This measure considers the actual implementation of open data projects and their progresses.


Are civil societies and businesses benefitting from the use of open data? The ratio considers how data have been used to improve our daily lives by taking into consideration the transparency of the process, the environmental impact and the general contribution to the economies.

Readiness, Implementation, Impact

But what is the value of open data? In 2013, McKinsey estimated that public and private shared information from different sectors can help create an additional value of $3 to $5 trillion a year. By 2020, the diffusion of open data is expected to reduce public administration costs across the European Union by €1.7 billion. In terms of GDP, recent findings from Lateral Economics have demonstrated the difference between open data and paid data could signify a 0.5% variation every year. Narrowing down the lens to the UK, a recent research from the Open Data Institute shows that the open data revolution goes well beyond the tech community. Indeed, open data companies are spread all across the country and vary in types and sizes, from micro to large enterprises. Surprisingly, the majority (70%) of them have less than ten employees. The government is the first source of open data, with almost seven in ten (70%) interviewed companies using, analysing and processing public datasets.

As the graph below shows, UK companies have been the first to spot the open Data economic potential, with the country ranking first in terms of both business use and economic impact.

Open data Economic Impact

Will we be able to keep up with the pace of datafication and benefit from the immense potential it can unleash?


Simone Grassi, Bristol Is Open


Photo credits: Synwell on Flickr