To round out our discussion of open data basics let’s think about local business services and the open data initiative.

Like open data usage in real estate and urban planning, the open data initiative is opening doors for better products and services at the local level. So, how do sprawling data sets help a business connect with neighbors on the block? Let’s take a look.

Local Services The Open Data Initiative

Farm to Table with a Side of Efficiency

When a state starts keeping track of truck traffic on local highways, you might think that it will help ebb traffic. But you might not have thought about connecting local farmers with empty truck space, like the folks at Magpie Supply have.

Yes, getting creative with the open data initiative, Magpie realized that small farmers find it hard to transport their goods to local farmer’s markets and restaurants at a reasonable price. So, using mapping data and publicly available information on truck transport, Magpie created a new service that brings down transport costs. Now local Colorado farmers can search the routes they need and find the best daily shipping options. Plus, there’s a lot less waste! That half-empty truck crossing the state might just be a thing of the past.

Local Bike Share Revolutions

Cities like San Francisco know that population growth means more bike riders are a must. So the city has started keeping track of who is biking and where. This open data initiative makes the data on travel routes openly available.

Enter the localized service: the bike share program. A bike share plan doesn’t work without understanding local roads, commuting routes, and riders. With the city keeping track of the most traveled roads, a bike share company can do a better job figuring out where share stations are most needed.

Bike shares can easily track their own riders. Their sign-ups and payments mean they know how many members are active, and they can easily track where bikes are picked up and dropped off. Combine the city’s data sets with the data about bake share use, and the local bike share program gets smarter. More bikes where they are most wanted is a win for the city’s traffic and makes happier riders.

Open Data Sets Open for the Reimagining

As we can see, some open data usage flows naturally from the open data set, like in the bike share example. Some turns the original data on its head a bit and finds solutions to a problem that the data collector may never have had in mind.

Think about an open data initiative like Sacramento’s new parking data app. The city is showing residents exactly where parking spots are available in real-time. While targeted at drivers, local business can use these features too. A restaurant’s valet services could use street parking to overhaul costs. A live tracker on a store’s website could make it easier for customers to visit.

Open data means news ways to see a customer. It can mean service that a customer never expected.

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