Interview with Dato Capital
Name: Dato Capital
Sector: Science and technology
Interview with Dato Capital, a multinational company specialised in business services and financial information.
Dato Capital offers users an extensive database of companies and executives. From what sources is the information obtained? Are they public or private?
There are about 100 different sources of information, most of them are official publications of public nature such as newsletters and official announcements, apart from the business registers, patent offices, tax agencies and entities dedicated to statistical studies. Some of these public sources are free and others not. Private sources are fewer in number but not in importance, and most of them belong to the banking and financial sector.
In the case of Spain, what sources of public sector information does Dato Capital reuse to provide commercial data?
In Spain the main pillar of business information is the Official Bulletin of the Commercial Registry (BORME) and other regional bulletins. The other sources are used to complement and enhance BORME data, and the most important secondary sources are the Commercial Registers, the Tax Agency through the Land Registry and the National Institute of Statistics.
What is the potential of commercial data and what are the most common applications according to Dato Capital experience?
The potential of business data is very high, both as an economic indicator and for its practical use for individuals and companies. As an economic indicator the commercial data is updated every day (unusual for this type of indicators) and it is possible to know the number of companies set up by industry, community, province or municipality as well as contests creditors, capital increases and other data close to the business daily reality. On the data provided by public institutions, such as registrars and notaries we bring added value as we cross these data with other national and international sources to analyze and visualize information from other perspectives. The most common applications of practical use for citizens and businesses are verifying the information provided by customers and suppliers, both for the financial sector in KYC procedures as for people who want to make an online purchase of a certain amount and want to know if the company owner the web exists, it is active and it is reliable. There are many public commercial data available but it is not always possible to find the way that users need and that is where our database and adds value to find information quickly.
The most common applications of practical use for citizens and businesses are verifying the information provided by customers and suppliers.
What role do open data play in the services offered by Dato Capital? And what data would you like to be opened up and what data are not opened up already?
Open data are one of the bases of our services, both in terms of availability to include them in our database as at legal level to market them, because sometimes we have data from crossing of information that if they are not open data we could not publish them, although the original data are not available directly to be downloaded.
In Spain the problem is that there are many overlapping laws, and although there is a general willingness to open data, this clashes with specific laws from each entity. Some examples are the transparency law against statistical confidentiality and the tax law, both applied to legal persons (companies). There is no doubt that these laws are meaningless when it comes to protect the privacy of citizens but this is not so clear when accessing corporate data. Therefore, we would like to access statistical, tax and customs business data (dependent on the Tax Agency), disaggregated, individualized and without anonymizing. This would not only be beneficial to Dato Capital but for transparency and commercial traffic as well.
Dato Capital provides its services in seven countries. What are the differences in the location, treatment and re-use of open data in other countries like UK in comparison to Spain?
In general, there is a global trend towards open data, with certain exceptions in some countries that have veered in the opposite direction, like Singapore. As part of this global trend the UK is the undisputed open data leader, not only in quantity but in speed as only a few months after they announced the release of data, they were available.
The fundamental differences between the UK and Spain when treating open data are in the identification, simplification and delegation of responsibility. The determination is achieved with a Freedom of Information Act that overlaps all others and avoid the overlaps that happen in Spain. The philosophy behind this initiative is called "Open by Default" and it first releases the data and then the exceptions are handled. Although there are plenty of open data in the UK, there are strong protections for certain types of sensitive data.
The simplification helps institutions that own the data and we must prevent open data initiatives increase their workload. Giving the possibility to publish raw and untreated data, and in the internal format used by the institution, though it is not ideal. It is better to have data that need to be processed than nothing.
The fundamental differences between the UK and Spain when treating open data are in the identification, simplification and delegation of responsibility
The delegation of responsibility also helps institutions and tries to remove any warranty or liability on the data released. In Spain many institutions are afraid that the release of certain data sets causes harm for errors or inaccuracies that may appear in them.
What barriers have you found to re-use the public sector information and what are the current necessities of the reusing companies in Spain?
The main barriers as mentioned above are the overlapping laws and the fear to subsidiary responsibilities. I think that the needs of reusing companies go in this direction: the release of raw data, for instance, there are much more data available. The question of data format or treatment is a minor problem for us because we have very advanced technology to treat any format.
What steps are necessary to promote that private companies re-use and create innovative services based on open data?
Our services are intangible, and in many cases they are primarily based on optimizing our customers' time, to provide them the information they need as soon as possible. In Spain there is a belief that all information is free on the Internet, and this makes it a difficult market for information marketers. An interesting measure would be promoting among citizens and businesses the value of the intangible, and how valuable time is. A Spanish citizen can lose an entire day of work determined to find free certain information about a specific company on the Internet, while in other cultures where time is more valued this does not happen, they pay and get what they need quickly, moving on with their projects . This change of mentality needs to be promoted to make the market more attractive to reusing companies.