NYU Tandon teams up with Columbia on GovLab project

The open data effort seeks to make government datasets more accessible.

The GovLab Open Data 500 database.


How are the companies of the country using the thousands and thousands of datasets made available by the United States government?
That’s the question behind a new project from NYU Tandon’s GovLab. According to GovLab, the federal government publishes upwards of 130,000 datasets on data as diverse in scope as the U.S. Government is. Judging by how much time and expense companies routinely invest in marketing, analytics and research, it’s fair to assume that the amount of info contained in these datasets is worth quite a bit.
And they’re all free! That’s so much potential value, just sitting there to be harvested!
GovLab is a research organization created by NYU Tandon for the purpose of learning how to make governments and institutions work better by using data and technology. In 2014 Tandon’s GovLab created a census of companies using open data. It was called the Open Data 500, for the number of companies it hoped to include (it has now surpassed that and is over 700). It asked these companies what data they use and where they get it from and a whole bunch of other questions. They published the results in a study called Open Data: A 21st Century Asset for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises.
Now they’re teaming up with Graduate School of Business at Columbia University to find out a sort of best practices for open data.
“Despite the release of tens of thousands of government datasets, there is currently no understanding of the impact this information is having on innovation, entrepreneurship and the economy in general,” said professor Sheena Iyengar, of Columbia, who will be leading this new effort. “Through the expansion of the Open Data 500, we can finally begin to assess these potentially large effects and connect public policy with real economic outcomes.”
This summer the group will be revisiting the companies of OpenData 500 to see how and for what they’re using the data.
And they’re looking for help, if you’re interested. Open data researchers or just people who have questions they’d be interested in posing to open data companies should reach out to opendata500@thegovlab.org.


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