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The Economist - When transparency is the handmaiden to innovation

THE opening bell for open data has been rung. Over the past week, a ganglion of groups has unveiled initiatives in support of freely accessible, public sector information. Together, it suggest that the open data movement has finally come of age. 

The most prominent activity was a high-level meeting in London last weekend of the Open Government Partnership, some 62 countries that ascribe to open practices. Britain committed to creating an open database of beneficial ownership of companies. Initial findings show that around 350 people hold more than 100 directorships apiece in Britain, with instances of individuals holding up to 1,000—a suspiciously large number for anyone to do meaningful diligence, as directors’ must. 

Another big win came from the Open Data Institute, a London-based charity that supports practical number-crunching. In just its first year, it has tapped open data to reveal easy-to-reduce medical expenses in Britain. Last week it announced the creation of 13 affiliates around the world, from America to Dubai. And a report by McKinsey Global Institute calculated the value of open data (including licensed proprietary data) at a breathless $3 trillion from seven sectors, including energy and transport.