Driving a new Open Data future

We're already seeing results from a major national drive to unlock sport and physical activity opportunity data

23 October 2017 Active Nation News

Women high-fiving

Almost one year after we teamed up with the Open Data Institute (ODI) to support OpenActive – a major national initiative to unlock sport and physical activity opportunity data – we’ve already seen big progress. 

Finding the right information online is essential if we’re to make sport and activity easy and accessible. But for too long, information has been buried on old-fashioned websites and printed flyers. 

We want to make sure that accessing sport and activity online is as quick and simple as booking a flight to Spain. But that can only be done if activity providers, sports clubs, leisure operators and the private sector open their data and allow it to be available to all.

Revolutionising the experience

When travel operators unlocked their data several years ago, it revolutionised the experience for holidaymakers. Now, we’re used to seeing immediate information about flights, cost and accommodation. 

Imagine the same thing for the sport and physical activity sector: knowing where, when and at what cost sport or activity is happening in your local area.

The more organisations that join OpenActive, the easier it will be for people to find and access physical activities

Lisa O'Keefe, director of insight, Sport England

In just nine months, OpenActive has established a community of local and national organisations, and individuals in the sector, who are now doggedly working towards making sport and physical activity data openly available.

Improved access to opportunity data will help both existing and exciting new start-ups and innovators use this data to develop new products and services that will help people get active.

Key achievements

Key achievements of the first nine months of OpenActive include: 

  • Fifteen pioneer organisations have published a ‘critical mass’ of open opportunity data – about where and when their activities happen. These pioneers join others who already provide open opportunity data, totalling over 76,000 activities across over 1,000 locations according to analysis by imin – ranging from swimming to hula-hooping, tennis to yoga, and athletics to football. Pioneers include: Greenwich Leisure Limited, Fusion Lifestyle, GO Mammoth, Table Tennis England, activeNewham, Playwaze and HulaFit
  • The ODI has worked with the sector to radically improve stakeholders’ understanding of open data, its importance and the opportunities it presents
  • The sector has worked together to develop a ‘data standard’ – a consistent way to describe, structure and publish opportunity data. Times, venues and activities need to be described the same way if this is going to be useful to innovators, and ultimately to benefit the consumers we want to help get active
  • The ODI and OpenActive members have grown a community of over 80 organisations and individuals supporting the initiative.

Building on the momentum 

Over the next year the initiative is committed to capitalise on the momentum created within the sector. The ODI and OpenActive members will:

  • Work with start-ups and individuals to stimulate demand and use open opportunity data to solve a common challenge
  • Begin to support and mentor a group of emerging data leaders from across the physical activity sector
  • Develop practical technical tools to help people who work with data
  • Continue to engage with organisations who offer sport and physical activities to publish open opportunity data
  • Continue to enhance stakeholders’ understanding of data, so organisations can build capabilities to work strategically and practically with data
  • Continue to develop a data standard for the whole sector to use, and introduce ways to make opportunities easier to find on search engines and easily bookable by consumers.

Our director of insight, Lisa O'Keefe, says: “Over the past 12 months it has been fantastic to see open data published by large leisure operators, national governing bodies and other activity providers."

"I’m really excited by what the next year holds, as we focus on supporting innovative start-ups to use this data too. The more organisations that join OpenActive, the easier it will be for people to find and access physical activities and ultimately, get active."

Find out more