Attending the Open Data Summit this week at the British Film Institute in London was a truly insightful experience. My knowledge of Open Data was relatively limited and I was treated to a superb line up of insightful speakers and entrepreneurs. The structure of the day was full of fast and impactful lightning talks and a few expert panel discussions covering challenges, culture and real life application of open data. The conference has left me feeling very positive about open data and excited about the prospect of future problems being solved through correct analysis and application of open data. If you were unable to make the ODI Summit, you can read up on the talks via the ODI website or follow @UKODI #ODISummit. In this blog post I will highlight the key definition of “Open Data” and share an interesting infographic of how open data can be used to solve future problems.

Open data defined

Data that is:

  • Shareable
  • Available
  • Accessible
  • You are able to reuse it
  • You are able to redistribute it
  • Available to everyone.

“Open data and content can be freely used, modified, and shared by anyone for any purpose”

Solving future problems with open data

Once you have an understanding of what open data is, the next thought you may have is, so what? The Open Data Institute published the following infographic illustrated by John Devolle. The infographic highlighted to me the tangible importance of open data.

Open Data - ODI Summit

Population growth and housing

Key Facts

Over the next 15 years, the UK population will increase by almost 10%, to around 70.7 million people, with an increase of around 232,000 households each year.


Open data about flood plains, energy suppliers, health infrastructure, roads and other services can help inform smarter housing.


Key Facts

To prevent and reduce the impacts of climate change, the UK has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% from 1990 to 2050.


Open data can help make energy supply and consumption more efficient. Weather and flood data, energy consumption and housing stock can inform where to put new power generators. Smart grid technologies will improve energy transmission, and smart consumer energy technologies will help raise consumer awareness of energy they’re consuming so they make better decisions about the energy they buy.

Climate change and extreme weather

Key Facts

Rising temperatures are likely to cause extreme weather. Rainfall will continue to increase, particularly in winter, and rising sea levels will also cause more floods, which will affect up to 1 million people per year.


Communications are crucial in emergencies. Open data can help people working on emergency response and prevention to co-ordinate their efforts and work from the same shared and accessible datasets.

Age and disability

Key Facts

As the UK’s population grows over the next 15 years, the number of people living over 80 years old will almost double. The number of older people with disabilities will increase by 32% by 2022, and by 2030, there will be over 80% more people aged 65 and over with dementia.


Open data about drug prescriptions. Health centres and census information can help improve health services and lower their costs.


Key Facts

Cities throughout the UK are developing plans to cope with more people using existing transport infrastructure in future. More people relying on trains and buses will contribute to the strain.


Open data about commuter patterns, the times at which public transport is most stressed and in which areas, will be key to target transport improvements over the next 15 years.

I hope this brief overview will inspire you to find out more about the power of open data and I hope to see more start ups arise using open data in innovative ways to make a difference in the world.