Value Stories

  • Hong Kong/China - open sourcing genomes / crowdsourcing killer outbreaks

    The genome from the deadly 2011 E. coli in Germany was the first dataset we at GigaScience released with a DOI and CC0 waiver. Due to the unusual severity of the outbreak – thousands severely ill and over 50 deaths, it was clear that the usual scientific procedure of producing data, analyzing it slowly and then releasing it to the public after a potentially long peer-review procedure would not have been helpful in this case. By releasing the first genomic data before it had even finished uploading to the usual scientific repositories (NCBI) via twitter, promoting... Read More
  • Improving government access to government data

    One of the primary users of open government data is government itself. Even from within government itself, it is not necessary easy to gain access to the data that you, as a civil servant needs as it is often locked up in departmental silos. This is why it should come a surprise that when the government of British Columbia began releasing open data in a centralised place, their open data portal, around one third of the site visits came from within government itself. In fact, the Greater Manchester area has estimated that “FOI requests cost Greater Manchester public... Read More
  • Exposing $62m in potential pharmaceutical savings in Southern Africa

    The Southern Africa Regional Programme on Access to Medicines and Diagnostics (SARPAM) has painstakingly collected and published data on the price and availability of medicines used by members of the Southern African development community. The study revealed huge variations of prices between countries, with public and private sector health groups in Southern Africa having the potential to save over $62m simply by switching to generic medicines, and being charged the same price as other countries. If this data was openly published, it would allow for the prices of medicines to be easily compared and savings to be made. For... Read More
  • Extractives remediation & public health — open data advocacy in Nigeria

    Following a recent lead poisoning epidemic in the Zamfara State of Northern Nigeria — the result of the local artisanal gold mining operations — local non-profit organisation Follow The Money took immediate action against their corrupt local government who they presumed was not distributing aid funds fairly. They launched the #SaveBagega initiative that relied heavily on visualizations and reports based on public data — some of which was open data and some of which they opened up through their campaign efforts — showing clearly where the previously released disaster relief funds should have gone. A global media outcry... Read More
  • Saludos - health and open data in Uruguay and Argentina

    In order to provide health services to citizens the public health sector is required to collect rich and varied data pertaining to all aspects of the sector - everything from location of pharmacies, to what is in our prescriptions drugs, to personal health files and hospital budgets. Different stakeholders, such as insurance companies and researchers, would love access to this rich data source but the extremely sensitive nature of this data, often containing confidential data on citizens, makes it necessary for public agencies to proceed slowly and cautiously. If sufficient precautions are not taken and private data (without the necessary... Read More
  • Making aid more effective in Nepal

    Nepal is currently focusing on building transparent and accountable public institutions following a period of disruptive civil war. By 2013-14, foreign aid represented 22% of the national budget and financed most development spending. NGOs, journalists and civil society have demanded more comprehensive, timely and detailed information on aid flows, particularly geographic information, to show where money is being directed. In June 2013, the Aid Management Platform was launched by the Ministry of Finance to assist efforts aimed at monitoring aid and budget spending. All NGOs are now required to report details about their funding and programmes to the platform, building... Read More
  • Danish address registry

    In 2002, the Danish government, having determined that “free and unrestricted access to addresses of high quality is beneficial to the public and forms the basis for reaping substantial benefits in public administration and in industry and commerce”, released its official Danish address database free of charge. Eight years later, the government analysed the impact of opening up Danish address data and came to the following conclusion. * Reuse: In 2010, free-of-charge address data was deliver to total of 1,236 parties of which 70% were from private companies, 20% from the central government and 10% from municipalities. Financial... Read More
  • Holding the Global Fund to account for its health spending

    An early application of open data has been the monitoring of aid spending, contributing towards greater donor transparency. Aidspan is an international NGO based in Kenya,working to enhance the effectiveness of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria by serving as a watchdog of the fund’s programmes. It does this using open data from the Global Fund to publish information, analysis and policy advice for use by policy- makers, data scientists and health advocates alike. Aidspan publications have covered topics such as procurement cost trends; levels of donor contributions to the fund; the costs and impact of investment... Read More
  • Open data businesses - an oxymoron or a new model?

    Building a business based on open data may seem counterintuitive, but new models are emerging with greater frequency and demonstrating how to integrate open data into a business operation in a useful and profitable manner. Identifying the type of open data that can help a business grow involves not only understanding what open data is, but also creative thinking around what can be done with the data. Once a useful data source is identified, a business owner must assess the risks and decide how to integrate the data into their product. While the first part of open data use relies... Read More
  • Winkling out budget data in Israel

    In Israel, what started as an attempt to find out how much the government spent on firefighting became a much larger project, as it slowly emerged that published budget data was unintelligible, late, and – as gradually became clear – wrong. A group of coders and activists used official requests, lobbying, campaigning, and legal action to get fuller, better and and more up-to-date figures. With some heavy data processing – and some crowd-sourcing – they cleaned this data and present it in a visual form, and as time went on, interactive features were added to enable citizens to explore the... Read More
  • Open data reduces mortality rate in UK hospitals

    In 2004, the UK heart surgeon Sir Bruce Keogh persuaded his colleagues (there are 240 heart surgeons in the English NHS) to publish comparable data on their individual clinical outcomes – a global first. 7 years later, dramatic improvements in survival rates are reported – in some procedures, more than a third of patients are living when they might previously have died; in all, there are 1,000 fewer deaths in English heart surgery units each year than there were. Read more about this story in this paper by Tim Kelsey. Read More
  • How the UK Government Saved £4 million in 15 minutes with Open Data

    This story tells how a senior UK government official used open data about government spending to save £4 million pounds in 15 minutes. It shows that one of the biggest beneficiaries of government open data programs can be government itself. This may seem surprising as government already has access to its own data. However, in reality, there are many obstacles to effective information sharing within government - so that even if data exists, friction may prevent it “flowing” to where it is most needed and most valuable. We emphasize this point that government itself is a major beneficiary of... Read More