Truth, damn truth & open data

Rats in the restaurant?

Data providers users developers“Evidence of rats or live rats present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas”, this is the exact violation stated in the inspection form of a restaurant in the NY area. Anyone can download a spreadsheet with the nearly 40.000 violations of hygiene listed throughout all NY restaurants (1). It’s very easy to see for instance which kind of restaurants are guilty of each type of violation or simply, before observing a particular one, have a look at the latest inspection from the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene.

Such data will describe how schools or hospitals perform, how restaurants or any other public service accomplish their duties or how mayor candidates spend their campaign budget. This type of data ought to belong to citizens. The idea of free data is not new, is just free access to public data without any copyright restrictions or control system. Despite the fact that openness of data is a kind of right, there are a lot of advantages. Allowing everybody manipulate and republish available open data it’s possible to invent and provide new services to the community. This is the background of open-data government initiatives (2). According to their own websites the list below shows the current amount of data sets available in different cities.

New York 1514
London 651
Barcelona 333
Milan 268
Paris 176

The worth of free date

Open Data may provide new opportunities to create value. On one side there are individuals and organisations making data available (Data Providers) and on the other side are those users who can make use of new accessible data to motivate their decisions (Data Users), in the middle there is a lot of room to any one proposing to bridge the gaps between what the data providers make available and what the data users consider useful. Data Developers build new value to Data Users providing visualisations, analysis and combination of data that facilitates to users in motivating their decisions.

Urban private and public transports, for example, provided a number of data entries that can be used to create the algorithms behind a possible Taxi App, or general transport App.


(2) A 2012 ”local law” establishes that each NY City entity must publish all its digital data by 2018.



Professor and researcher at UPC.

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Onsanity’s expertise combines technology, design & science to promote collective intelligence in organisations, merging views from experts in economy, health, sociology or mathematics among others.

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Truth, damn truth & open data was last modified: July 5th, 2016 by Josep Mª Monguet