Ireland has been named as the third-best country in Europe for accessing public data in a major new report.
The Open Data Maturity report by Capgemini Consulting says that Ireland now trails only Spain and France when it comes to public sector data being used for new publicly-accessible services.
The report praises the introduction of services such as Splash.epa.ie, an Environmental Protection Agency service that tells citizens which beaches have safe water quality levels.
"In Ireland, the impact of open data on environmental sustainability is estimated to be high thanks to geospatial and environmental public bodies being very active in publishing data," said the report.
"This includes the Ordnance Survey Ireland, the Marine Institute, the Environmental Protection Agency and Geological Survey Ireland."
It also praised other state-led efforts to improve "open data readiness".
"Ireland is considered as one of the frontrunners," said Jorn Berends, a consultant at Capgemini Consulting.
The average score among EU countries was 597 points, while Ireland scored 870.
Four additional benefits have been identified with greater access to open data:
1. Saving lives
In emergency situations, open data can improve an effective response by analysing where to place equipment and station personnel.
Applications with the highest potential of saving lives are focused on preventing death by cardiac arrest.
In the US the most popular application is called PulsePoint and combines 911 calls with location data.
It is thereby not only able to point people that are trained to provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the right direction of the victim, but also to the nearest publicly accessible defibrillator.
2. Better consumer decisions
Citizens can make better decisions by getting insights in government spending, being able to compare schools, hospitals, public transports on a range of quality indicators.
In Italy, the RomaScuola open data service allows parents to obtain valuable information about all schools in Rome and make more informed choices for their children.
The service uses open data to compare schools on indicators such as frequency of teachers' absence, internet connectivity, use of IT equipment and frequency of students' transfer to other schools.
3. Businesses can use it to build their own services
Third parties build applications based on the data made freely available, such as the creation of an app based on real-time public transport data.
GoOV is a Dutch application which uses various open data sources such as real-time travel information to provide travellers with instructions and assist with any problems or questions.
4. A socio-economic dividend
"A study prepared by Capgemini Consulting for the European Commission estimates that between 2016 and 2020, the market size of open data is expected to increase by 36.9pc to a value of €75.7bn by 2020," said Wendy Carrara of the European Data Portal.