14 innovative UK companies using open data 2016

Charlotte Jee
Charlotte Jee

Charlotte Jee

Charlotte is Techworld editor. She joined as senior reporter in April 2014 having previously worked as assistant editor at Government Computing.

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The open data movement has been on the rise since the public sector started opening up its data via data.gov.uk in 2010.

The government promoted open data not just to support transparency but also to boost economic growth, thanks to the new startups it anticipated would be launched to exploit the newly-available data.

The Open Data Institute, launched in 2012, has taken the leading role in helping UK startups that use open data to flourish (many of which are listed here), alongside its pioneering work in promoting, training and connecting those within the open data community. 

It’s a trend that rapidly gathered pace in 2015 and it's set to continue in 2016. Here are 14 of the most innovative examples of companies that use or produce open data...

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Credit: 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.

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

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Credit: CarbonCulture

CarbonCulture

CarbonCulture is 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).  

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The Sydney Opera House is one of Arup's most famous projects © Wikipedia/Enochlau

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. 

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© Flickr/GotCredit

Adzuna

Adzuna is 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. 

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© 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. 

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Founder Ed Dowling with colleagues Lyndsey Knight and Therese Stowell © Nesta

FoodTrade

FoodTrade is 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. 

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© Geolytix

GeoLytix

GeoLytix is 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.

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Skills Route © 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.

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© OpenCorporates

OpenCorporates

OpenCorporates is 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.

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© OpenSensors.io

OpenSensors.io

OpenSensors.io is 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 licence plate recognition and motion sensors to optimising office spaces via thermostats, lights and locks. Data generated is made available for reuse for free.

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© Shoothill

Shoothill

Shoothill is 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. 

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© Spend Network

Spend Network

Spend Network is 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. 

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© The Data Lab

Swirrl

Swirrl is 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.

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TransportAPI team at work © Flickr/Harry Wood

TransportAPI

TransportAPI aims 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.

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