city of denver open data website

Cities Open Data Programs Mean Entrepreneurial Growth

Entrepreneurs are being handed free public data by the government in an effort to improve transparency, engage the community, and spark entrepreneurial growth.  Public information that has not been open to the general public in the past is now being posted online by federal agencies.  The posted data ranges from a cities list of back taxes on properties to all of the fishing and hunting areas.  Entrepreneurs are then taking this information and turning it into cash.  The open data programs are finally gaining steam and business is booming for entrepreneurs across the country.

Hidden Treasure for Entrepreneurs

Although some open data programs were established back in 2009 when Obama gave a directive to federal departments to release raw public information, many of the programs are just now starting to take-off across the U.S.  More and more state and local governments are forming legislation to put open data programs in place.  Since 2009, 175 federal agencies have posted data online for anyone’s use, and now cities are doing the same.  Over 43 cities have joined the movement and helped to turn aspiring entrepreneurs into successful company founders.

The open data programs may not seem very significant to some, but entrepreneurs view it as a way of creating income and jobs while helping people.  Developers are using the free raw data files posted from sectors like transportation, population, energy, and housing and turning it into apps and products that people and companies can buy.  For example, San Francisco firm, Climate Corp., was created from the city’s data release.  They analyze weather data that has been posted for free, and then they offer farmers insurance policies based on the data.  This helps farmers adjust to climate change without losing money, but also funds Climate Corp. through the insurance policy.

Another great example of this free data being turned into a business is  The company uses several open data sources from the government to offer consumers a network of legal advice and comprehensive profiles and information.

You can check out more examples of businesses that have started from the open data programs at Open Data 500, which lists all the companies that have started from this method.

Cities with Data Programs See Entrepreneurial Growth

Open data programs have not only added some transparency for the public and civic engagement, but it has increased the rate of business formation.  Cities like Chicago, Seattle, and Austin are ahead of the national average for new business creation, and all of them have an open data program.

New York City has also used the open data programs to inspire entrepreneurs to create through a competition.  The NYC BigApps Competition is held annually with hundreds of entrepreneurs applying to compete.  Then they use the city’s released data to create applications for the public’s benefit and use.

As the open data programs become more prominent, other cities are beginning to see how beneficial they are to the citizens.  This is good news for budding entrepreneurs that are itching to give back to their communities while making a few bucks!