About the Open Data 500

The Open Data 500 is the first comprehensive study of U.S. companies that use open government data to generate new business and develop new products and services. Open Data is free, public data that can be used to launch commercial and nonprofit ventures, do research, make data-driven decisions, and solve complex problems.

Study Goals

  • Provide a basis for assessing the economic value of government open data
  • Encourage the development of new open data companies
  • Foster a dialogue between government and business on how government data can be made more useful

The Govlab’s Approach

The Open Data 500 study is conducted by the GovLab at New York University with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The GovLab works to improve people’s lives by changing how we govern, using technology-enabled solutions and a collaborative, networked approach. As part of its mission, the GovLab studies how institutions can publish the data they collect as open data so that businesses, organizations, and citizens can analyze and use this information.

Company Identification

The Open Data 500 team has compiled our list of companies through (1) outreach campaigns, (2) advice from experts and professional organizations, and (3) additional research.

  • Outreach Campaign

  • Mass email to over 3,000 contacts in the GovLab network
  • Mass email to over 2,000 contacts OpenDataNow.com
  • Blog posts on TheGovLab.org and OpenDataNow.com
  • Social media recommendations
  • Media coverage of the Open Data 500
  • Attending presentations and conferences
  • Expert Advice

  • Recommendations from government and non-governmental organizations
  • Guidance and feedback from Open Data 500 advisors
  • Research

  • Companies identified for the book, Open Data Now
  • Companies using datasets from Data.gov
  • Directory of open data companies developed by Deloitte
  • Online Open Data Userbase created by Socrata
  • General research from publicly available sources

What The Study Is Not

The Open Data 500 is not a rating or ranking of companies. It covers companies of different sizes and categories, using various kinds of data.

The Open Data 500 is not a competition, but an attempt to give a broad, inclusive view of the field.

The Open Data 500 study also does not provide a random sample for definitive statistical analysis. Since this is the first thorough scan of companies in the field, it is not yet possible to determine the exact landscape of open data companies.


The GovLab - Open Data 500 Team

Beth Simone Noveck

Founder & Director,
The GovLab

Stefaan Verhulst

Co-Founder and Chief of Research and Development, The GovLab; Director of GovLab's Open Data Project

Andrew Young

Knowledge Director

Beth Simone Noveck

Beth Simone Noveck directs The Governance Lab and its MacArthur Research Network on Opening Governance. Funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Google.org, the GovLab strives to improve people’s lives by changing how we govern. The GovLab designs and tests technology, policy and strategies for fostering more open and collaborative approaches to strengthen the ability of people and institutions to work together to solve problems, make decisions, resolve conflict and govern themselves more effectively and legitimately.

The Jacob K. Javits Visiting Professor at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and a visiting professor at the MIT Media Lab, Beth is a professor of law at New York Law School. She served in the White House as the first United States Deputy Chief Technology Officer and director of the White House Open Government Initiative (2009-2011). UK Prime Minister David Cameron appointed her senior advisor for Open Government, and she served on the Obama-Biden transition team. Among projects she’s designed or collaborated on are Unchat, The Do Tank, Peer To Patent, Data.gov, Challenge.gov and the Gov Lab’s Living Labs and training platform, The Academy.

A graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School, she serves on the Global Commission on Internet Governance and chairs the ICANN Strategy Panel on Multi-Stakeholder Innovation. She was named one of the “Foreign Policy 100″ by Foreign Policy, one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business” by Fast Company and one of the “Top Women in Technology” by Huffington Post. She has also been honored by both the National Democratic Institute and Public Knowledge for her work in civic technology.

Beth is the author of Wiki Government: How Technology Can Make Government Better, Democracy Stronger and Citizens More Powerful, which has also appeared in Arabic, Russian, Chinese and in an audio edition, and co-editor of The State of Play: Law, Games and Virtual Worlds. Her next book The Networked State will appear with Harvard University Press. She tweets @bethnoveck.

Stefaan G. Verhulst

Stefaan G. Verhulst is Co-Founder and Chief Research and Development Officer of the Governance Laboratory @NYU (GovLab) where he is responsible for building a research foundation on how to transform governance using advances in science and technology.

Verhulst’s latest scholarship centers on how technology can improve people’s lives and the creation of more effective and collaborative forms of governance. Specifically, he is interested in the perils and promise of collaborative technologies and how to harness the unprecedented volume of information to advance the public good.

Before joining NYU full time, Verhulst spent more than a decade as Chief of Research for the Markle Foundation, where he continues to serve as Senior Advisor. At Markle, an operational foundation based in New York, he was responsible for overseeing strategic research on all the priority areas of the Foundation including, for instance: transforming health care using information and technology, re-engineering government to respond to new national security threats, improving people’s lives in developing countries by connecting them to information networks, developing multi-stakeholder networks to tackle global governance challenges, changing education through information technology et al. Many of Markle’s reports have been translated into legislation and executive orders, and have informed the creation of new organizations and businesses.

He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Culture and Communications at New York University, Senior Research Fellow for the Center for Media and Communications Studies at Central European University in Budapest; and an Affiliated Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Global Communications Studies at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communications.

Previously at Oxford University he co-founded and was the Head of the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy at the Centre for Socio Legal Studies, and also served as Senior Research Fellow of Wolfson College. He is still an emeritus fellow at Oxford. He also taught several years at the London School of Economics.

Verhulst was the UNESCO Chairholder in Communications Law and Policy for the UK, a former lecturer on Communications Law and Policy issues in Belgium, and Founder and Co-Director of the International Media and Info-Comms Policy and Law Studies at the University of Glasgow School of Law. He has served as a consultant to numerous international and national organizations, including the Council of Europe, the European Commission, UNESCO, World Bank, UNDP, USAID, the UK Department for International Development among others. He has been a grant recipient of the Bertelsmann Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Markle Foundation.

Verhulst has authored and co-authored several books, including: In Search of the Self: Conceptual Approaches to Internet Self Regulation (Routledge, 2001); Convergence in European Communications Regulation (Blackstone, 1999); EC Media Law and Policy (AWL, 1998); Legal Responses to the Changing Media (OUP, 1998); and Broadcasting Reform in India (OUP, 1998). Most recently, he co-edited The Routledge Handbook of Media Law (2013). Verhulst is also founder and editor of numerous journals including the International Journal of Communications Law and Policy, and the Communications Law in Transition Newsletter.

Claudio Mendonca


Arnaud Sahuguet

Claudio Mendonca

Claudio Mendonca is the graphic designer at The GovLab. Working as a graphic artist for more than 10 years, he earned his Bachelor's degree in Graphic Design in 2005. He has extensive experience in branding and interaction design.

Claudio's previous experience includes 3 years developing graphical material for several government institutions in Brazil, publications and interface design for startups.

He also designs webapps for the Centre of Direct Democracy and works as a design consultant at the World Bank Institute on several open gov projects such as Open Government, Open Contracting, Open Development and Technology Alliance, ICT4Gov.

At The GovLab, Claudio is responsible for branding and interaction design for The GovLab projects. He can be found at claudiomendonca.com.

Expert Advisors

  • Jose Alonso, World Wide Web Foundation
  • Paul Baker, Webitects/Open Data Institute (Chicago)
  • Michael Chui, McKinsey Global Institute
  • Hania Farhan, World Wide Web Foundation
  • Juliana Freire, New York University
  • Daniel Goroff, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
  • Jim Hendler, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Hudson Hollister, Data Transparency Coalition
  • Harvey Lewis, Deloitte
  • Bill McGee, Author, Attention All Passengers
  • Theresa Pardo, Center for Technology in Government
  • Lee Rainie, Pew Research Center
  • Gavin Starks, Open Data Institute (London)
  • Danne Woo, Datavisual, Inc

The GovLab's inagural Open Data 500 team included: Joel Gurin, Laura Manley, Audrey Ariss, Katherine Garcia, Marilla Li, and Gustavo Magalhaes.

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