Open Data & Open Innovation Policy

Open Data and Open Innovation are two key concepts for the Smart City. Open Data, according to the Open Data Handbook, Open Innovation, as explained by Henry Chesbrough (in Open Innovation: Researching a New Paradigm, published by Oxford Press in 2006; p.1), is a paradigm that “treats R&D as an open system [and] suggests that valuable ideas can come from inside or outside the company and can go to market from inside or outside the company as well.” In short, Open Data refers to freely accessible and shareable data, and Open Innovation refers to the how firms use and reuse ideas and resources to bring a product to market. In the context of the Smart City, Open Data and Open Innovation offer ways for the wealth of potential data and technology solutions to be both available for citizens and cities and attractive to companies, municipalities, and nonprofits.

In light of the potential benefits, a major question is how Open Data and Open Innovation become institutionalized within the Smart City. In conjunction with the MAPPD project, research is being conduct to collect, compare, and analyze Open Data and Open Innovation policies, practices, and protocols across the United States. Surveying proposed and in-effect policies, laws, regulations and administrative practices, the research focuses on producing a typology of Open Data and Open Innovation in order to understand the ways these ideas are executed at different scales and across different contexts. Beyond a typology, findings from this research will include policy recommendations and guidelines for municipalities.

A preliminary study assessed tweleve local open data policies based on their potential to increase transparency, public participation and economic innovation. The study found that open data policies can support cities’ efforts to increase transparency, public participation and economic innovation, however, policies alone are not enough to achieve these goals, and in some cases they may actually inhibit such innovation from taking place. The findings from this study support the claim that open data policies created through open processes have, on average, greater potential to increase transparency, public participation, and economic innovation than those created through a closed process. Cross-disciplinary and cross-sector collaboration were identified as integral to promoting greater interoperability and to expanding use of open data to support innovation. In order to maximize the potential of open data, cities need to cultivate a culture of openness internally, and nurture an ecosystem for open innovation more broadly. Read the study here.

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