Innovative UK companies using and sharing open data

The open data movement is gaining a growing range of converts among citizens and organisations freely that believe free access to information can maximise its value.

Read next:What is Open Data?

The UK has long been at the forefront of the open data movement and now ranks second behind Canada in the World Wide Web Foundation's global rankings for public access to official information.

Read next: What is the UK government's open data strategy?

Government initiatives such as data.gov.uk, organisations like the Open Data Institute, and a thriving startup scenes have helped create some compelling uses of open data in the UK. Here's our pick of the best.

Citymapper
Credit: Citymapper

Citymapper

Citymapper uses open data to power a free mobile app that helps people the healthiest, fastest and cheapest travel routes across a city. It provides this by integrating open datasets from organisations including Transport for London (TfL), OpenStreetMaps, Foursquare, Google, Apple, and Cyclestreets.

Citymapper’s General Manager Omid Ashtari told the Open Data Institute that that it was no coincidence that London was chosen as the launch city for a service now available around the world.

"The exciting thing about what’s going on here is that London, and the UK as a whole, is really progressive in terms of embracing open data, which we’re quite happy about," he said. "Citymapper was created here because of the existence of open data. It’s the essential backbone of what we're working on."

Read next: Startups aim to transform urban cycling with enormous new TfL dataset

Leeds City Council
iStock

Leeds City Council

Leeds City Council uses open data to develop a range of sustainable public services.

One is a "bus clock" that shows real-time bus arrival times collected from open data sources on a graphical clocks face. It's been installed in locations including community centres and GP surgeries to help elderly people use buses and reduce the number of missed medical appointments.

Another example is an open data platform called Data Mill North, which collates information from multiple sectors into a single website that citizens can use to understand and access local services.

"It holds hundreds of data sets updated by many organisations," Dylan Rovers, the Leeds City Council Chief Digital and Information Officer, told Techworld's sister title CIO UK.

Mastodon C

Mastodon C

'Big data done better'. Mastodon C aim to provide agile big data insights in a sustainable way. Their platforms Kixi and Hecuba pool real-time data to aggregate, model or analyse it and feed the information back to businesses. The platforms are run via the cloud (usually AWS) and aim to provide business insights to aid daily business operations.

Previously, Mastodon C reportedly found a potential £200 million worth of savings for the NHS.

The Guardian

The Guardian

British national newspaper, The Guardian uses open data in a pretty interesting way. Since 2009, the newspaper has published its raw data for partners to reuse via an API.

Partners are given access to all that the content The Guardian creates, equating to over 1.5 million news articles since 1999. This enables users to build external applications in return for carrying Guardian advertising.

CarbonCulture
Credit: CarbonCulture

CarbonCulture

CarbonCultureis an open platform designed to help people and businesses use resources more efficiently. The UK startup monitors workplace carbon use and suggests ways to improve efficiency and save money. CarbonCulture works with the Cabinet office, 10 Downing Street, Tate Modern, University College London and Cardiff Council (to name a few).

ASOS

ASOS

Back in 2011, global online fashion and beauty retailer Asos opened its data to external web developers. In a bid to extend its online presence, Asos has opening up its product and basket API making it easier for third-party websites to integrate better with and lead potential customers back to the Asos site.

Arup
iStock

Arup

Arup, a UK-based global engineering consultancy, uses open data as a vital part of its work with smart cities and the technology that supports them. Working on how to use public data about traffic, planning, natural hazards and other topics to deliver more efficient services and help mitigate against risks, for example of natural disasters.

Adzuna
© Flickr/GotCredit

Adzuna

Adzunais a search engine that aggregates job adverts from several hundred different online sources. It uses open data in the form of labour market statistics for its Job Index, which provides an overview of the UK jobs market. It also provides free access to its job data via an API, all run by just 25 staff in south west London.

PWC
iStock

PWC

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), is the second largest professional services firms in the world with a network of firms in around 157 countries.

PWC enables open data research and provides analysis of projects for the Open Data Challenge Series, a number of challenges aimed at promoting sustainable open data services to tackle social problems.

Doorda
© data.gov.uk

Doorda

Doorda is a startup that brings together different government datasets into a single online map. This helps citizens better understand public data on their local area, such as properties, schools, crime hotspots, local news and road safety. The company, which has just five employees, also consults firms on how to use open data.

FoodTrade

FoodTrade

FoodTradeis an online platform that brings together over 1,600 local food producers with consumers to map supply chains and promote transparency in the food sector. The Bristol-based startup recently launched FoodTrade.Menu, an automatic allergen labeller that uses Food Standards Agency data to help restaurants ensure their menus comply with allergy rules.

GeoLytix
© Geolytix

GeoLytix

GeoLytixis a startup specialising in geospatial data and consultancy. It uses data from Transport for London, the Land Registry, OpenStreetMap and various Whitehall departments to create ‘geodata products’ such as maps, boundary data and points of interest. It then releases some of these products as open data, including processed census data, workplace data, supermarket locations and postal sector boundaries. They have worked with Boots, Asda and Barclays, to name a few.

Mime Consulting

Mime Consulting

Mime Consulting offers management information services like data warehousing, analysis, visualisations and dashboard design. Its London-based team of just 10 set up Skills Route, a platform designed to help young people make informed choices on their education, using data from the Department for Education, the Higher Education Statistics Agency and others.

OpenCorporates
© OpenCorporates

OpenCorporates

OpenCorporatesis the world’s biggest open database of company information, incorporating data from 98 million firms in 108 jurisdictions. It aims to record a URL for every corporate entity in the world. Users can search company type, incorporation date, registered address and company directors. Data is aggregated from sources like government websites, national company registers, company filings and available as an API.

OpenSensors.io
© OpenSensors.io

OpenSensors.io

OpenSensors.iois an internet of things platform. Its real-time messaging engine can process millions of messages per second from any internet-connected device, for example a sensor. It has a wide range of uses – from automating car parks via license plate recognition and motion sensors to optimising office spaces via thermostats, lights and locks. Data generated is made available for reuse for free.

Shoothill
© Shoothill

Shoothill

Shoothillis a Shrewsbury-based software development startup that makes maps and tools to help understand and reduce the risk of flooding in the UK, based on Environment Agency open data. Its FloodAlerts product provides localised updates to keep users informed about flooding in their areas, while its GaugeMap is a live map of river levels.

Spend Network

Spend Network

Spend Networkis a startup that provides services for businesses including data analysis to forecast tender pricing and timelines, but it also helps the public sector understand trends and identify inefficiencies in the procurement process. The firm plans to launch a procurement pipeline product for public sector contracts.

Swirrl

Swirrl

Swirrlis a Scottish tech startup that helps organisations organise and publish their data. Its PublishMyData platform is used by public and private sector groups to publish and manage their data online in structured machine-readable formats.

TransportAPI

TransportAPI

TransportAPIaims to provide a single, comprehensive source of UK transport information covering timetables, routes and live running for a wide range of transport modes including trains, buses, cars and bicycles. It pulls in data from Transport for London, the Department for Transport, Network Rail amongst others. Over 1,450 firms and developers work with its data to create apps and services.

Kognitio

Kognitio

Kognitioprovides cloud-based data analytics for data science and business intelligence companies. Kognitio supplies big data insights for Bet365, Nectar and BT (among many others) and reads data from established big data platforms such as Hadoop.

Yorkshire Water
iStock

Yorkshire Water

Yorkshire Watersupplies and treads water in West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, the East Riding of Yorkshire, part of North Lincolnshire, North Yorkshire and part of Derbyshire. Yorkshire Water publishes its findings and data sets on the Leeds Data Mill - a large database for council information.

Tesco

Tesco

Tesco, the multinational grocer and retailer, currently uses weather information from open data sources including the Met Office and correlates this with sales data to create demand models of demand across thousands of stores.

IBM
iStock

IBM

IBM currently supports open data by developing the Many Eyes data visualisation tool that helps to represent open data visually, in the form of graphs and otherwise.

Nike

Nike

Nike has supported the open data movement by creating the Materials Sustainability Index (MSI), which lets them evaluate different materials used in production. This data is publicly available through an API under an Open Database License.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.