In today’s economy data is power. “Open data leveraged by networks is the fuel that powers important decisions at each level of society,” writes Vivek Kundra, “from government to business to community to households.”

In a new Shorenstein Center discussion paper titled “Digital Fuel of the 21st Century: Innovation through Open Data and the Network Effect,” Kundra makes four specific recommendations to ensure our society continues to build on and benefit from the power of open data and the so-called “network effect” which, according to Kundra, possesses great potential to drive massive social, political and economic change.

Kundra argues that:

  1.  Citizens and NGOs must demand open data in order to fight government corruption, improve accountability and government services.
  2. Governments must enact legislation to change the default setting of government to be open, transparent and participatory.
  3. The press must harness the power of the network effect through strategic partnerships and crowdsourcing to cut costs and provide better insights.
  4. Venture capitalists should invest in startups focused on building companies based on public sector data

Kundra, who served as chief information officer for the Obama Administration (2008-11) and as a Shorenstein Center fellow in the fall of 2011, concludes that information and data combined with networks and startups will unleash powerful new forces for the greater good of society.