October 5, 2012
What is it?
What is Open Data?
According to the Open Knowledge Foundation, a non-profit organization, “open data is data that can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone.” It involves the publication and sharing of information online in open formats, readable by machines, which may be freely and automatically reused by society.
When is data regarded as open?
Data is regarded as open when there is:
- Availability and access: data must be fully available for a reasonable reproduction cost, preferably through downloading; it must also be available in a convenient and changeable format.
- Reuse and redistribution: data must be provided so as to enable reuse and redistribution, including cross referencing with other datasets.
- Universal participation: anyone can use, reuse and redistribute it, without discrimination against industry, people or groups (restrictions such as “non-commercial” that prevent commercial use are forbidden, as well as limited use for certain purposes, such as “education only”).
What types of data can be open?
All data can be open!
There is usually interest from the following in opening data: governments, companies, activists and teaching and research institutions, for example.
Why open data?
Opening data enables:
- Transparency and democratic control;
- Population engagement;
- Citizen empowerment;
- Better or new private services;
- Improved efficacy and effectiveness of governmental services;
- Assessment of the impact of policies;
- Uncovering new things by combining data sources and standards.
What about open government data?
These are information produced by governments that must be made available to all citizens for any purpose. Government data are regarded as open when they comply with the following laws and principles.
What are they for?
For reuse by citizens and organizations in a society to verify, clarify, inspect and monitor them, according to their interests. Opening public data strengthens institutions, enables citizenship and social control, fights corruption, promotes transparency, enables inspections and fosters new ideas for public policies from within society itself.
Citizen engagement enables the government to improve its processes and increase the transparency of public administration. This happens because the Open Government Data Available clarifies how the sectors that are still not aligned with social control and service goals work.
How does it work in practice?
Opening data enables, for example, creating a mobile phone application showing where the public schools in an area are located, as well as how vacancies are distributed and where the highest demand for places is; or, how public money is being spent or even public safety levels in a given municipality or neighborhood.