Open Data

Open data is simply data that can be accessed, used and shared freely by anyone. At the most, they will have to attribute and share-alike. When governments or huge companies release non-personal information from their databases, it gives businesses, interested citizens or medical researchers the freedom and ability to develop resources that are beneficial for society. This released data is called open data.

Today, open data affects almost every aspect of our everyday life, be it socially, culturally, politically or financially. These are the most important qualities of open data:

  • Access and availability The data must be easily accessible and available, meaning that it must be obtainable as a whole and at a reasonable cost. Preferably, it should be available for download from the Internet in a convenient and easily modifiable form.
  • Redistribution and re-use The data must be made available to the public under terms that allow for redistribution and re-use, as well as combining and mixing with other open data.
  • Universal participation Anyone should have the freedom to access, use, re-use as well as redistribute the data, without any restrictions on certain groups of people or discrimination based on social class, occupation, age or any other factors.

Open data and interoperability

The whole idea of open data is based on interoperability. This makes it extremely important to be clear and concise in defining what exactly “open” means.

Interoperability means the ability of various organizations and systems to come together and inter-operate. In the case of open data, we are dealing with inter-operating or inter-mixing diverse datasets.

Especially in this century, interoperability is imperative because it enables different components to merge and work together efficiently and eventually build large and complex systems. In the absence of interoperability, this becomes almost impossible.

Benefits of open data

Through the years, open data has proven to be extremely valuable and beneficial in building a better and more developed world. It has contributed greatly towards our economies too. In fact, according to a 2011 McKinsey report, it was estimated that a global market which is powered by open data from seven different factors would bring in around $3 trillion to $5 trillion every year.

According to the Open Data Institute, various companies in the UK which are driven by open data, have a combined annual revenue of over 92 billion pounds and employ over 500,000 people.

Therefore, open data, through inter-operability, help us to build better cities, reduce unemployment, make our transportation systems more efficient, access healthcare services with ease, discover cures for diseases, and so on.