This week the Center for Open Data Innovation launched a new report ranking each G8 country to their commitment to transparency and open data. nuviun reported on the findings and investigated what this means for healthcare.
We keep hearing that data is the new oil: if you have it you’re golden, if you don’t you and your team cannot advance. Lukas Biewald writes in a post this week: “Data is becoming more and more critical to businesses, but almost all data is siloed inside corporations. The lack of open data sets today holds innovation back and that needs to change”.
But if data is so important for innovation how can people access it if it’s so protected? Open data policies can be a huge driver to free up data from their silos and make it accessible for innovators and research. This is true across the boards - for economic, health, or scientific research.
“Whether it is for creating a modern, evidence-based health care system or for building sustainable, energy-efficient cities, data is increasingly a critical component in many initiatives to make the world a better place,” says the mission of the leading think tank, the Center for Open Data Innovation.The Center studies the intersection of data, technology, and public policy.
This week the Center launched a new report ranking each G8 country (now G7 plus Russia, which exited last year) according to how well each nation complies with the five open data principles set in the Open Data Charter from 2013 (above some key findings from the report). In the illustration below you can explore how well each nation performed on each principle.
Note: Use the dropdown box to click through each country
Open Data Portals:
The reports suggests that although the number of data sets is by no means a precise measure of a data portal’s value (countries may represent the same data in different ways e.g., one country may release a single combined data set whereas another may release multiple disjoint data sets), it can give some indication of the level of activity for open data.
Interview with Daniel Castro, director of the Center for Data Innovation
nuviun had the chance to interview Daniel Castro the director of the Center for Data Innovation who is also vice president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.
Castro said in the interview that they wanted to see whether verbal commitment to this 2013 Charter by the nations would actually translate into action. The overall results to Castro are positive. Every country except Russia took open data seriously. Some more and some less, but Castro is pleased that each country expended some effort on driving open data sources, and that they see the value this presents to innovation within their country.
Governments outside of the G-nations have also shown progress on open data policies. According to khaleejtimes.com national officials in Dubai just announced that the country will make sharing data sets of public and private information mandatory and that a new policy will be implemented later this year.
How could open data access work for healthcare innovation?
A step towards open data should be prioritized in the governments’ as well as corporations’ agendas. With Apple’s latest announcement of ResearchKit, researchers can access open health related data from Apple’s HealthKit platform from Apple users who decide to participate. It has been shown over and over that people are willing to participate in research studies, and share their data.
ResearchKit is premised on these notions. And it has already been successful. Early research partners told Bloomberg that they received thousands of volunteers to share their data shortly after the launch of ResearchKit. One medical trial that uses the data from Apple’s platform reported that 11,000 people signed up. To put this in contrast to traditional methods, Alan Yeung, the medical director of Stanford Cardiovascular Health told Bloomberg that it would take one year and 50 medical centers to get 10,000 people enrolled in a medical study.
However Bloomberg's article also warns that misleading data could come from a user, e.g. accidentally hitting a button or giving her phone to someone else, Harvard Medical School Professor C. Michael Gibson told in an interview with Bloomberg. So open data can really be a great blessing if the methods of collecting the data are reliable.
Recently we reported on a big data application for the New York Blood Center (NYBC). Algorithms are applied to large citizen data sets to better target blood donors for NYBC’s campaigns. If the data had not been made available in the first place, it is unlikely that NYBC would have considered this approach.
With findings presented by the Center for Open Data Innovation or announcements of more pro-open data approaches by companies such as Apple Inc. (Apple made clear that ResearchKit will be open source) or Samsung (reported here that Samsung’s vision of digital health are research partnerships and open platforms) we are moving in the right direction. Now we only need to get through the privacy issues.