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What is Open Data?

The answer to this is slightly more complicated than simply ‘data anyone can access, share and use’ as the open data initiative was created by Tim Berners-Lee (the creator of the World Wide Web). According to the Open Definition from the Open Data Institute: “Open data is a term used to describe information that can be reused, used and redistributed with no restrictions and is accessible at no cost.” It also notes: “Universal participation must be enabled. It should not restrict any field of endeavor or individuals or organizations. It should also not impose limitations on commercial use or restrict the mixing of data sets.

A format that is accessible is a further important aspect in making datasets useful. Datasets must be stored in a format that is easily accessible, can be downloaded and processed by computer programs and updated automatically whenever new data is published. Furthermore, they must be capable of being linked to give context and allow for new analyses to be made.

The final aspect of a successful open data initiative is that they must be focused on the most important issues facing your organization or government. This is a great method to get the initial support of leadership, and will help ensure that any resources invested in open data are devoted on initiatives that have the greatest likelihood of achieving positive results and generating value that is sustainable. This could take the form of boosting job creation, improving the sustainability of your organization, or supporting community engagement.

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