ODI Summit: Q&A with Kevin Merritt

Data, data, everywhere, but hardly a chance to think. While it’s true that the opportunities afforded by the opening of data troves to the public are almost infinite in kind, it’s often difficult to see how a mass of numbers can directly improve the average citizen’s life.

Socrata, a group who "appify" data caches with the purpose of translating data into useable information, is a Seattle-based cloud software company and a newly signed member of the ODI. Socrata focus exclusively on democratising access to government data, helping public sector organisations to improve transparency, citizen service and fact-based decision-making by efficiently delivering data to citizens.

We spoke to Socrata CEO Kevin Merritt about his involvement in the upcoming ODI Summit (29th October) and the possibility of an even more open definition of open data.

What will you be talking about at the Summit?

I'll be sharing some of the most successful open data stories in U.S. cities, states and federal agencies.

Which innovation or discovery in open data has most surprised you?

How much professional satisfaction government employees experience when engaging with citizens, developers, entrepreneurs and researchers through data.

What direction do you see open data heading in over the next five years, and what most excites you about the future?

Data will flow seamlessly and multi-directionally through ecosystems and research networks, etc. The number, kind and variety of actors - publishers and consumers - in these data exchanges will significantly increase.

As the number of councils, cities and countries opening up their data increases, which sector do you think stands to gain the most (business, government, commercial, environmental, etc.) and why?

Government itself as a sector stands to gain the most because open data initiatives catalyze the transformation of data from raw resource to valuable asset and helping evolve government organizations from instinct-driven to data-driven. These two cultural changes will help governments operate more efficiently, serve their constituents more effectively and help them make better decisions about where to invest resources.

Now less than a week away, the first annual Open Data Summit will feature some of the biggest names working in the field(s). After a day of keynotes, fireside chats and lighting speeches, Sir Tim Berners-Lee will address an exclusive Gala Dinner. Tickets and a combination package for both the conference and the Gala Dinner are available now.