The announcement made today in Brussels regarding the launch of Open Data Strategy for Europe will open up potential business opportunities around the data mine that European Union holds. The European governments are sitting on a goldmine of information which can be utilised to great extend if it were to be opened up to public use. According to officials announcement in the press release that they delivered this morning, it is expected to deliver 40 billion Euros to the economy each year.

In the plan, there is a 100Million Euros worth of grant to fund research into improved data-handling technologies which will be available between 2011-2013. Smart phone apps, such as maps, real-time traffic and weather information, price comparison tools and more will greatly benefit from the valuable raw data that the governments hold. Of course, the journalist and the academics will benefit from having access to the raw data from EU. Public sector information (PSI) is the single largest source of information in Europe. It is produced and collected by public bodies and includes digital maps, meteorological, legal, traffic, financial, economic and other data. Most of this raw data could be re-used or integrated into new products and services, which we use on a daily basis, such as car navigation systems, weather forecasts, financial and insurance services.

What’s Open Data :

Open Data is general information that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone – either free or at marginal cost. Many governments have already published website to access their data openly to everyone but studies show that it is still not very easy to find and use. Open data has a very long way to develop fully in Europe. This is a great initiative to give that boost to potential businesses who can utilise that raw data and blend it into their technology.

The initiative moving forward on the re-use of the governement data is really focusing of the raw data to be easily re-usable in terms of machine readable formats, being rights free and free of charge.  I personally like the idea that they are expanding the institutions that are involved in the scheme. These will include libraries, museums and archives for the first time. Data is becoming more transparent , cheaper , easy to use and more variety. This is just great news for innovators, educators, journalists, entreprenuers and users.

Follow Neelie Kroes on his blog here : Unlocking the goldmine: new legal proposals to open up Europe’s public sector to be updated on the news of Open Data in EU. Also if you would like to learn more about the Linked Data read Freeing Government Data from .XLS to Link and Open It Up