Open data can boost economic growth: Foster

Date published: 26 November 2015

Finance Minister Arlene Foster today said access to open data can help stimulate and grow the Northern Ireland economy.

The Minister was speaking as she formally launched the Northern Ireland open data portal which opens up free online access to public sector data.

The new website aims to make government data freely available, without restrictions, to everyone. 

Speaking to representatives from the private sector, public sector and academia, the Minister said:  “The Northern Ireland open data portal is a place to publish, share and find public sector information.  This open access aims to transform current public sector data management practices and create an ‘open by default’ culture within the Northern Ireland public sector.”

The portal brings together, in one place, a range of data from government departments and other public sector organisations, some of which has not previously been published. The data is free to copy, adapt, commercially exploit and publish.

Arlene Foster said: “The release of public sector data has huge potential to create jobs and stimulate, strengthen and grow the Northern Ireland economy. The Open Data Institute in England recently identified 270 companies in the UK that produce or invest in open data. Between them they employ over half a million people and have a turnover of £92billion pounds. The time is right for businesses, developers and academics in Northern Ireland to exploit the commercial potential of open data. I encourage them to utilise the data available on this new website to innovate and create those commercial opportunities.”

The Minister continued: “The new website already has more than 40 datasets available – everything from prescription data, to mapping and transport. This will grow as all public sector organisations work towards releasing more data. For example, work is ongoing with Translink to release real time bus information.”

Turning to the benefits of open data within government, Arlene Foster added: “We are at the start of a significant turning point in Northern Ireland as we seek to reform our public sector. Open data will play a crucial part in enabling innovation in the public sector, which will help us to find smarter and better ways of delivering public services.”  

The open data portal joins up access to data across a range of themes, including: health; education; employment and the economy; population and society; property and land; and environment and agriculture.
The Northern Ireland open data website can be accessed at: 

The development of the new open data portal is driven by the Northern Ireland Open Data Strategy

Notes to editors: 

Media enquiries only to DFP Communications Office on 028 9081 6895 or 028 9081 6725. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.

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