Open Product Data

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Katelyn Rogers:

"Barcodes are the key to unlocking the potential of product data. For over 40 years, GS1 has contributed to the standardisation of barcodes across the world. GS1 assigns manufacturers a GCP (Global Company Prefix) code, which is used by the company to generate unique identification numbers for all their products (the GTIN code or barcode). As a result, GTIN codes are a unique and standardised identifier for the vast majority of products sold across the world.

There is just one problem: product data is public but not open. Manufacturers assign a GS1 GTIN code to each of their products and they print this code on the packaging, meaning that GTIN codes are publicly available. However, they do not provide a digital catalogue of all their products meaning GTIN codes are not open.

A database containing the GTIN codes, in addition to other product identifiers such as the GLN (Global Location Number) and GPC (Global Product Classification), is a crucial first step in developing the consumer tools of the future.

Opening up product data can:

  • Empower Consumers by allowing third parties to build applications that provide consumers with the information they need to make smart purchasing decisions. From applications that provide consumers with information about the allergens contained in certain foods to applications that calculate and compare the air miles or carbon footprint of similar products, using barcodes in combination with other data allows for countless applications to be built that will inform and empower consumers.
  • Improve Efficiency by helping humanitarian organisations, charities and food banks manage their supply of donated products or providing individuals with information about how and where to recycle a product according to local ordinances and their location.
  • Generate Economic Growth and Innovation by creating an entirely new channel of communication for discovering and discussing products. Imagine simply scanning a barcode and seeing product advertisements, seeing customer reviews, seeing suggested recipes and so on, all in real time."