What is Open Data

December 1, 2014

"What is Open Data?" And is this a silly question in 2015?

With so much more data available today (both open data and other forms), this question has become more complex for many.

Just because it's available online, doesn't mean it's necessarily Open Data.

So what makes data "open"?

The OpenData Handbook, produced by Open Knowledge, a worldwide non-profit network of people passionate about openness, identifies three key characteristics:

  • Availability and Access: the data must be available as a whole and at no more than a reasonable reproduction cost, preferably by downloading over the internet. The data must also be available in a convenient and modifiable form.

  • Reuse and Redistribution: the data must be provided under terms that permit reuse and redistribution including the intermixing with > other datasets.

  • Universal Participation: everyone must be able to use, reuse and redistribute - there should be no discrimination against fields of endeavour or against persons or groups. For example, ‘non-commercial’ restrictions that would prevent ‘commercial’ use, or restrictions of use for certain purposes (e.g. only in education), are not allowed.

Open Data also needs to be non-personal data (does not contain information about specific individuals).

This summary is based on the Open Definition which precisely details what "open" means.

Check out our Data Portal or featured apps for examples of what this data looks like.