Why the world’s governments are interested in creating hubs for open data

It’s fascinating to see orgs like ODI and Code for America pop up and do so well. Maybe we could live in a Star Trek future where everyone works to benefit mankind after all?


Amid the tech giants and eager startups that have camped out in East London’s trendy Shoreditch neighborhood, the Open Data Institute is the rare nonprofit on the block that talks about feel-good sorts of things like “triple-bottom line” and “social and environmental value.” In fact, I first met ODI’s CEO Gavin Starks because he used to run AMEE, a startup that builds software for environmental data, and he was one of our first speakers at GigaOM’s early green conferences.

But ODI, which officially launched last October with funding from the U.K. government, is a private company and philanthropy isn’t its dominant aim. ODI helps companies, entrepreneurs and governments find value in the explosion of open data, and it seems to be starting to gain commercial success like a savvy street vendor selling hot cakes.

ODI’s CEO Gavin Starks told me that the governments of 25 countries have approached…

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