Open Data or Closed Doors?

Better use of data can unlock economic growth in UK cities

Report published on 10 December 2013 by Maire Williams


One of the factors constraining our ability to improve the functioning of UK cities is the lack of robust data at the city level. The UK Government needs to do more to increase awareness of and use of the data it holds. Cities themselves need to recognise the value of the data they collect and begin sharing this for the benefit of their residents.

This report highlights some of the benefits seen around the world from opening up data, whether that data be classed primarily as public, private or big data. It also highlights data currently held by the UK Government that if released would significantly improve the understanding of cities, and it sets out some important areas in which data collection needs to be improved.

We make the following policy recommendations:

  • Central and local government should prioritise the release of data they hold on city economies in order to provide cities with the information needed to enhance their economic performance and meet the needs of their citizens.
  • Central government and cities should set up a series of ‘hack days’ to encourage new uses of the data that they are releasing and secure funding from sponsors to turn ideas into functional products.
  • Cities should set up special interest groups to explore what existing public datasets can be used and combined to provide new insights, savings or prototypes reflective of their city’s needs.
  • Cities should look to share the big data they already collect by setting up online platforms that allow organisations to upload their own data and use the data of others.
  • Cities should lead on collecting new data and identifying uses of big data that could lead to longterm savings and benefits.

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