Data Biz

Open Data companies – 8 video case studies

0 Comments25 April 2014

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Over the last two months I’ve been fortunate to participate in several events that have featured some of the most innovative Open Data companies around today. We’ve collected hundreds of examples of these companies through the Open Data 500 study at the GovLab. But it’s been especially interesting to hear key people from new companies describe their work in their own words.

First was the event that the GovLab graciously hosted to celebrate the publication of my book, Open Data Now. Beth Noveck, director of the GovLab, wrote about the event on the GovLab blog; you can also see a video of her remarks and my talk here.

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At the event, Doc Searls, author of The Intention Economy, made a compelling case for why companies should give their customers access to their own personal data – a development, he said, that could be as significant as the adoption of personal computers or Internet access in business strategy and practice. You can see his talk here:
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The same event – called Open Data Now @ NYC –  featured leaders from three local New York Open Data companies. First up was Russ Graney, founder and CEO of Aidin, which is dedicated to helping hospital patients find better post-hospital care. He saw the need when his uncle was discharged from the hospital with nothing but a typed list of healthcare providers for guidance; the family chose one that happened to be nearby, and the uncle didn’t get the quality of care he needed. Now Aidin provides in-depth information to help patients and their families choose their best options. You can learn how it all works here:
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Next we heard from Krishna Venkatraman, senior VP of analytics at OnDeck, one of the companies that is transforming the funding opportunities for small and medium-sized companies. These companies often find it hard to get working capital: Traditional lenders don’t want to put in the time that’s needed for due diligence to determine which companies are a good investment risk. OnDeck uses public Open Data to do the due diligence themselves, giving lenders the confidence to make loans that give small businesses the capital they need. Here’s their story:
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Finally, Marc daCosta, co-founder of, talked about his company’s mission: to make all kinds of government datasets more useful by putting them on a platform that makes them easily usable and interoperable. (I’ve previously profiled Enigma on this website.) Enigma has already processed tens of thousands of federal datasets and is working with state data as well, much of which will be available for free. Here’s Marc’s presentation:
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Shortly after our event at the GovLab, I was on a World Bank panel on Open Data and the Data Revolution where I heard presentations from colleagues at two other innovative companies. Ines Kapphan, product manager at the Climate Corporation, talked about that company’s work in developing what’s been called “precision agriculture” – the use of Open Data and sophisticated analytics to advise farmers on what to plant, when to plant it, and how to adapt to climate change. (You can read about the Climate Corporation and hear my interview with CEO David Friedberg here.) On the same panel, Ash Casselman, product manager for Metabiota, described how her company is deploying researchers in countries around the world to do on-the-ground studies of infectious disease patterns, and making a major contribution to public health research in the process. Both companies are doing work that could help apply Open Data to developing economies. You can watch the video of our panel here. 

Then, at the end of March, I participated on a panel for the Congressional Transparency Caucus, co-chaired by Representatives Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Mike Quigley (D-IL). This panel focused on the use of open government data as a key resource for businesses, including those that provide financial information, data and technology services, and websites for consumer choice. Chad Sandstedt, co-founder of Tagnifi, described how his company provides accessible, usable financial data that was previously only available in lengthy print tomes. Marcus Louie, data solutions architect at Socrata, described how his company’s platform can make government data at all levels more useful to the public and to government agencies themselves. And Kevin Davis, director of the business category at the consumer-focused site FindTheBest, a consumer-focused website that’s now gaining traction, talked about how his company is applying Open Data to help consumers with a range of decisions on products and services, from education and health to cars and electronics. Hudson Hollister, executive director of the Data Transparency Coalition, moderated the panel. Here’s the video:
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These presentations, from eight companies and a thought leader in the field, all show the many business applications of Open Data and what is making them successful. Together with the GovLab’s Open Data 500 study, these case studies and others like them are showing the progress and potential of a rapidly emerging field.

- Joel Gurin, Founder and Editor,

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