In domains like financial services, the buying and selling of data is commonplace, and providers such as Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters are well-established. Elsewhere, too, there is recognition that data supports good decision making when creating new products and services, both for businesses and the individual consumer.
This is joined by a growing realization that the data to support decision making doesn’t always have to be created in-house. As a result, a number of new data markets have emerged in the past few years. Riding a wave of freely accessible data from governments, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and international institutions such as the World Bank, these companies are in the business of providing access to data — from information on U.S. census returns to the location of every Starbucks in Canada.
A wide range of companies exists in this space, and often there are more differences than similarities in the various products on offer. Some of these companies, like AggData or Datafiniti, act as aggregators, pulling data from numerous topic areas across the web (e.g., entertainment, health, legal) and offering it for download from a single place and in a consistent manner. Others, like Factual, go further, cleaning data...