Creating a platform to find, integrate and use open data in business

What is open data?

Every day, more and more open data is provided by governments, public institutions and sometimes even private companies. Just like open source software or open access movements, open data is "data that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone".

In line with the open data movement’s call to make data freely available to everyone, there are now more than 2,600 open data portals around the world. Many are provided by public administrations that publish statistics, geographic, geopolitical and financial data. Another example of open data is crowd-sourced data like OpenStreetMap, a shared project to create a free editable map of the world.

How is open data used in business?

Although there is an increasing number of open data sets, companies rarely use them because of the lack of transparency, the uncertain quality and the different formats of the sources. Many businesses are not even aware of the available open data sets and their relevance to business processes or decisions. Those who do are unsure about the data quality and whether it meets their company’s standards. Furthermore, integration is difficult because open data access, licensing and conditions are very different.

How does one find open data sets for business?

To solve these problems, the Competence Center Corporate Data Quality (CC CDQ), together with the University of Lausanne, launched a project to provide an “Open Data App Store” that helps businesses find, integrate and use open data. The 2-year project is funded by InnoSuisse in close collaboration with Nestlé, SBB and Swisscom. CDQ AG is the main implementation partner.

How will the open data app store work?

Unlike other open data platforms, this data app store not only focuses on data provision, but also on how businesses use data. The goal is to create and implement a framework and a platform that will support the data consumer throughout the entire information supply chain in the following ways:

  • Finding the right data ("data dating")
  • Choosing and changing the selected data sets
  • Using the data

The integration and use of open data should be as easy as getting an app from any app store on a mobile phone.

Which use cases will be addressed?

In the first nine months of this project, the team has identified, documented and detailed a large number of use cases that have significant business benefits. A very promising use case involves the use of standardized codes (e.g. ISO codes, tax or tariff codes) to enrich or validate data.

In international trade, for example, companies that are importing or exporting goods to or from the EU need to fill out the so-called Single Administrative Document (SAD). 34 of the 54 fields that need to be filled in require standardized codes.

Other promising use cases include business partner and address data that may benefit from open corporate data, as well as demographic, geolocation or event data that are useful in marketing and campaign planning.

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