Global Corporate Networks Exposed through New Online Platform

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World-wide interests of US banks first to be identified

Visualization of Goldman Sachs Corporate Network[Press Release] A new online platform launched today is set to provide free and open access to global corporate networks.

The platform, developed by OpenCorporates, collects, extracts and makes usable global corporate data, in an open and granular way. Large data sets, many of which were not available as open data before, have been imported by the London-based company, and used to develop corporate network visualisations which show the global corporate networks of businesses. Examples include IBM, Starbucks and Barclays.

In addition to the corporate network visualisations, the new technology has produced maps which show the world-wide interests of four US banks – Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. They reveal complex and deep networks, as well as the central position that the Cayman Islands have within them.

Chief Executive of OpenCorporate, Chris Taggart said:

Photo of Chris Taggart“This platform is an incredibly powerful and innovative piece of technology. Prior to its development, many of the datasets we are using were only available as web pages or PDFs. Now we are bringing this data together into a useable format which will change the way people are able to access and view corporate networks.”

“The emphasis we place on detailed provenance and confidence scores with this platform is substantially better than existing efforts to identify corporate networks, which are essentially ‘black boxes’. These hide the underlying data used to derive the relationship links, give no indication of how likely the information is to be correct, or the date the information related to. We believe that in a world which is increasingly dependent on corporate data, this is critical – whether you are an investigative journalist, or calculating credit risk.”

Specific platform innovations include:

  •     for the first time, existing public data about global corporate networks is being brought together in one place;
  •     the platform releases the dataset as open data;
  •     it reliably matches companies in the network to data already held by OpenCorporates;
  •     it provides sources for every data point so users can verify data;
  •     it visualises data in different ways to make it useful for different users needs;
  •     the ability for third parties to collaborate by contributing to and correcting the data

Graph of Starbucks subsidiaries via OpenCorporate

The network visualisations use several sources:

  •     Filings made by large domestic and foreign companies to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
  •     Banking data held by the National Information Center of the Federal Reserve System in the U.S.
  •     Information about individual shareholders published by the official New Zealand corporate registry

The visualisations are available through the main OpenCorporates website. Network data is currently available for 5% of the more than 50 million companies currently in the OpenCorporates system.  More datasets have been identified and will be added over the next few months, and crowdsourcing will be added shortly, to allow users to extract information from company annual reports, for example, building on the value of the data. OpenCorporates hopes the project will encourage companies to improve the accuracy of their reporting and make more information available as open data.

OpenCorporates is one of several companies based at London’s Open Data Institute (ODI) which was founded by Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Sir Nigel Shadbolt and opened in December 2012. The ODI is supported by a blend of UK Government funding and private investment.

Today’s announcement is the first material open data outcome from the recent G8 Summit where members signed an Open Data Charter committing them to make data available “in ways that are easily discoverable, useable, or understandable by the public”. It follows commitments by the US, where the Administration recently issued an Executive Order compelling Departments to publish information as open data and further open data commitments by the World Bank and Open Government Partnership.

ODI Chief Executive, Gavin Starks said:

Photo of Gavin Starks“Following the direction set at the G8 on tax, transparency and trade, we are delighted to see OpenCorporates launch these open data tools and visualisations. This is more evidence that open is the new default. Companies who demonstrate leadership by presenting their information as open data will help provide deep insight into the world’s corporate networks, for the benefit of everyone.”

Nigel Shadbolt said:

Photo of Nigel Shadbolt“Identifying the extensive, complex, and sometimes opaque connections which exist amongst global corporations is of enormous benefit to society and the economy. By opening up this data, OpenCorporates provide tools that promote transparency, accountability and efficient governance. Companies who believe in ethical trading and honest markets have nothing to fear and much to gain from open data. Understanding their networks will enable governments, businesses and citizens to make better decisions – be they legislative, commercial, ethical or environmental. The tide has already turned towards openness, those who do not turn with it will be left behind.”

OpenCorporates received funding from the Alfred P Sloan Foundation to support its work developing corporate networks.

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