What is Open Data?

The answer to this question is slightly more complicated than merely ‘data that anyone can access and use, as well as share’ as the open data initiative was started by Tim Berners-Lee (the creator of the World Wide Web). The Open Data Institute’s Open Definition states: “Open data is information that can be freely used, reused and redistributed.” It also states “Universal participation should be allowed.” This means that it does not exclude areas of endeavor as well as individuals or organizations and does not place restrictions on commercial use, nor restrict the intermixing of different data sets.”

A format that is accessible is another crucial aspect for making datasets useful. Datasets need to be stored in a way that is easily readable, can be downloaded and processed by computer applications and can be updated automatically whenever new data are published. Additionally, they need to be capable of being linked in order to give context and allow for new analyses to be developed.

Another important aspect of successful open data initiatives is that they must be concentrated on the most important issues facing your organisation or government. This is a great method to start gaining the support of leadership and to ensure that any funds spent in open data are devoted on projects that have the highest potential for achieving positive results and generating sustainable value. This could take the form of increasing the creation of jobs, enhancing the sustainability of your organization, or supporting community engagement.

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