What is Open Data?

Let's start with the definition.

Open Data is defined by the Open Definition and requires that the data be:

(a) Legally open: that is, available under an open (data) license that permits anyone freely to access, reuse and redistribute, and

(b) Technically open: that is, that the data be available for no more than the cost of reproduction and in machine-readable and bulk form.

Why is Open Data important?

Individuals and organizations collect large amounts of data, and the rate of digital data expansion is exponential.

The choice between whether to invest in open or closed data depends on the organization in terms of size, stakeholders, amount of use cases and any regulatory requirements. A smaller organization that has a limited use for data using a narrow highly specialised tool set to perform a limited number of tasks and therefore it might make sense for this organisation to develop capabilities within a single technology. This is typical of when a single vendor can provide a packaged proprietary solution to a single discipline. This type of organisation may only communicate in other formats when sharing externally.

In the case of a larger organisation that has many more interfaces with different stakeholders and use cases each with different formats and data structures, the choice of file formats becomes more important to enable all the data sources to be understood. The openness of file data is even more important to government organisations who’s data requirements require quality, centralising and whos data is public data and therefore needs to be made open to all.

“Technology research firm Gartner Inc. predicts that 85% of commercial software packages will include open source components by 2015 and that 95% of IT organizations will be using open source software in some fashion.”