Mission 2

In this section we’ll explore the following:

  • What is open data?
  • What is data?
  • What makes data open?
  • Why do we need open data?
  • What is open data?

Open data is data that anyone can access, use and share.

Governments, businesses, and individuals can use open data to bring about social, economic and environmental benefits.

  • What is data?

Data is the raw material from which information and knowledge can be derived. Think of data as those locations, transportation, descriptions, reviews and prices that form the basis of information that can help you plan a trip, for example.

  • What makes data open?

Data is open if anyone can access, use and share it.

There are some simple things to consider when defining openness:


For data to be open, it should have no limitations that prevent it from being used in any particular way. Anyone should be free to use, modify, combine and share the data, even commercially


Open data must be free to use, but this does not mean that it must be free to access.

There is often a cost to creating, maintaining and publishing usable data. Ideally, any fee for accessing open data should be no more than the reasonable reproduction cost of the unit of data that is requested. This reproduction cost tends to be negligible for many datasets. Live data and big data can incur ongoing costs related to reliable service provision.


Once the user has the data, they are free to use, reuse and redistribute it – even commercially. Open data is measured by what it can be used for, not by how it is made available. Aspects like format, structure and machine readability all make data more usable, and should all be carefully considered. However, these do not make the data more open.

  • Why do we need open data?

Open data can help bring diverse benefits to governments, businesses and civil society.

Transforming government

Open data can help make governments more transparent. It can provide the evidence that public money is being well spent and policies are being implemented.

For example, according to leading open government activist David Eaves, open data allowed citizens in Canada to save the government $3.2bn in fraudulent charitable donations in 2010.

Building new business opportunities

Open data is opening up new opportunities for businesses to connect with customers.

Transport for London has released open data that developers have used to build over 800 transport apps. Startups in the ODI Startup programme now collectively employ over 70 people and generate over £4m in income.

Protecting our planet

The web has become a core part of our infrastructure and open data will build on this.

For example, open data about weather can provide an early warning system for environmental disasters. Open data is also helping consumers to understand their personal impacts on the environment, and take steps to improve it.


Mission 3 – Reading Text

In this section we’ll explore the following: How to unlock value from open data

  • Innovation and grown for businesses

Open data is supporting innovation and growth by revealing opportunities for businesses large and small to build new services, identify savings and improve operations. Open data stimulates innovation by removing barriers to access, use and shareability of data. Data literacy is a core skill for businesses looking to take advantage of the opportunities open data offers to create new value and improve operations.

For example, in Paris, café owners are using open data to attract tourists to the city’s most affordable coffees, while, in Iceland, farmers are using open data about the quality of their lambs to attract new customers.

In this section, we’ll explore the following: How to understand successful approaches that can help unlock value from open data

  • Supply and demand

When examining an open data initiative, consider the following:

What your approach is

Many open data publishers have taken the approach of building a portal, publishing the data they have, and hoping it is what consumers want or need.

As open data literacy grows, people are starting to think first about the needs of data consumers and shape their initiatives accordingly.

Who wants your data

It is often best to focus on demand that currently exists. Think about problems that already exist and how your data relates to them. Offer your data as a tool to help build solutions.

Who will use and support your data

A successful open data initiative has an engaged community who actively use the data, with access to resources that support them.

A strong community of open data re users has a sense of ownership over the data. This ownership should cover both the data and the outputs generated from it.

It is important for publishers and consumers to fully understand each others perspectives.

A good example of a strong open data community is the Open Street Map project.

  • Culture change for new markets

Applying technology is the easy part. Implementing culture change can be much harder.

Identifying new markets

The traditional market for open data, where governments publish data for others to consume, has changed. Governments, businesses and society are all now both suppliers and consumers of open data. Use that data to identify business sectors that offer new business opportunities.

Culture change

Adopting open data will often require a change in the way an institution operates.

People driving initiatives need to spend time developing a shared vision, overcoming barriers and building coalitions for change.

Consumers should be empowered to engage with open data as a core part of their data infrastructure.

Planning for change

Ways to handle and plan for culture change are becoming clearer.

Governments, organisations and individuals should have free access to key education, tools and guides that help plan for the future.

Pilots and practical initiatives play important roles in understanding the impact of open data and the change process. There are tools and guides to help you assess and plan for change, such as the ODI’s Open Data Pathway.

Successful open data initiatives do more than simply put data on the Web. In this section we’ll explore the following:

  • Being demand-focused

A demand-focused approach prioritises the needs of the data user over the data publisher. Demand-focussed open data also enables a range of additional benefits.

Open data as educator

Data, not just open data, is now a core aspect of many people’s jobs. However, not everyone has the skills required to manage, clean and interpret data.

Open data creates opportunities to increase the level of data literacy in the workforce by raising public awareness of data skills.

Enabling innovation with open data

Open data is a key enabler of open innovation. Opening data can encourage people within an organisation to communicate with each other and with external groups.

Plume Labs, a French startup, combined open data on air quality with advanced monitoring and visualisations to provide the latest air pollution indicators for 18 European cities

For businesses, opening data can improve relationships with consumers and open up new customer channels.

Thomson Reuters has opened up its identifiers data to make the data it holds discoverable, easy to access and use.

Assessing how useful open data is can vary depending on the domain and the content. To assist this process, there are a number of best practice guidelines publishers and users can follow.

In this section, we look at the 5 Stars of linked open data and discover how this can be used to measure the technical usability of data.

In this module we’ll explore the following:

  • What are the 5 Stars of linked open data
  • The first 3 stars
  • The 5 stars of open data

The 5 Stars guideline for linked open data is a way to measure how well data is integrated into the Web.

It examines the accessibility and technical usability of a dataset ranging from being available online (1 star) to being part of the web of data (5 stars). Each star must be awarded sequentially and none can be skipped.

The guidelines were developed by Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 2001 and have been adopted by publishers worldwide to help guide many open data initiatives, such as the Italian Digital Agency who attach badges to all their datasets.

  • The first 3 starts of open data

The first 3 stars of linked open data allow you to establish if the available data is usable.

1 star – open licence

The first star is awarded to any data that is open at a basic level. The content, in any format, must be available under an open licence.

Regardless of the quality of a dataset, it cannot qualify for the first star unless it is available under an open licence.

A PDF file on a website available under an open licence is enough to fulfil the first star.

2 stars – re usable format

The second star is awarded to any data that allows for simple re-use. The guidelines state that the data must be available in a ‘highly-reusable, structured format’ that can be read by a machine and understood by a human.

The key to achieving 2 stars is to select the most re-usable format. In some cases, the most re-usable format may be a closed or proprietary one, such as an Excel or Numbers file.

Making data available in any format is better than none at all.

3 stars – open format

The guidelines for the third star of open data state that the data must be available in a structured, machine-readable format which is not tied to a specific software package.

An example of a dataset that would be awarded 3 stars is a CSV file with an appropriate open licence.

Enel, an Italian energy company, provides a good example of a 3-star dataset with a clearly displayed star-rating badge.

In this section we’ll explore the following: How to build a web of data using the 4th and 5th star of data.

In order to build a web of open linked data, two things are required:

  • Data that can be referenced on the Web
  • People to provide Web links to this data from within their own data

These are the two conditions that meet the requirements of the 4th and 5th stars of linked open data.


  • 4th Star open identifiers

The 4th star is all about being able to reference things on the Web.

An identifier is a short-form way of referencing a more complex thing.

Company numbers for businesses and Zip/Postal codes for places are common examples.

However, there are many other identifiers used both by the public and private sectors.

The challenge of many identifiers is that it is not obvious from the number itself what it refers to. Most people therefore rely on search engines to tell us more about what these identifiers are for. Web-based identifiers don’t have this problem as you can simply click the identifier to find out more.

For example, the company number for a business is 08030289. To find the company from this number, you would have to type it into a search engine to find out what the identifier was for before linking through to the resource. By contrast, you can follow a web-based identifier for the same book directly from any Web browser, for example:

  • 5th Star open identifiers

The 5th star is about linking individual data points together.

These links enable humans and machines to navigate between data sources on the Web.

Linking data points directly to one another allows you to direct the person or machine to a definitive record on that subject, rather than each person maintaining their own record of the data. Linked data functions like an official website by providing everyone with an authoritative resource on the subject. Linked data also saves everyone from duplicating data by sharing a single resource among an infinite number of datasets, using URIs.



Mission 4 – Reading Text


In this section we’ll explore the following: Understand licensing of open data. More specific:

  • Why open data needs to be licensed
  • How licences unlock the value of open data
  • What type of licence suits open data
  • How to provide for open data licensing in the tender, procurement and contracting lifecycle
  • What are the legal requirements for an open dataset to use
  • Why licence open data

Without a licence, data is not truly open. A licence tells anyone that they can access, use and share your data. Unless you have a licence, data may be ‘publicly available’, but users will not have permission to access, use and share it under copyright or database laws.

  • Benefits of open data licence

Licensing gives permission to businesses, startups, governments and individuals to innovate with open data. More specifically, it:

Provides certainty

Open data licences provide users with certainty that the data can be used and shared for a wide range of purposes. An open data licence is an explicit permission to use the data for both commercial and non-commercial purposes. Without a licence, users may find themselves in a legal grey area.

Provides clarity

As of 2015, only around 46% of data in open data catalogues across the European Union is truly openly licensed.

In the EU, copyright and database laws are complex. While data might be intended to be open, a licence provides legal clarity for users.

Enables innovation

Open data licences enable experimentation, exploration and innovative uses of open data in new products and services.

For example, Transport for London’s transport data is openly licensed. It has underpinned a wide range of public transport journey planners, available as apps on smartphones and mobile devices.

  • What types of licencing exist

The simpler the licence, the better. There are lots of different licences. To maximise reuse, try to adopt a licence standard that is already widely used.

Creative Commons licences

Creative Commons licences are widely used for open content. Version 4.0 explicitly considers data licensing.

There are three Creative Commons versions of an open licence:

  1. Public domain: (CC0)
  2. Attribution: (CC-BY v4.0)

The public domain and attribution licences give most flexibility in the use of data while a share-alike licence may limit the commercial use of the data.

You can choose a licence that works for you at the Creative Commons website

Bespoke/Custom made licence

A bespoke or custom-made licence is created by the data publisher and introduces specific conditions with which the user must comply. Bespoke or custom-made licences can be written by the publisher or adapted from a standard licence through the addition of new conditions and/or the modification of existing ones.

Bespoke and custom-made licences can increase complexity for users of open data.

They may introduce specific conditions that limit usage, restrict data integration and, in some cases, are difficult for users to comply with.

Open Government licences

Some publishers have chosen to develop their own licences.

The best examples are:

  • short
  • compatible with widely used licences
  • easy to comply with

A good example of a clear open license has been created by the French government.

The UK Government has a good example of an open licence developed in this way that is used by UK Government departments.

  • Third parties and licences

Third parties

Governments and organisations often use contractors to provide services on their behalf.

These governments and organisations may be committed to publishing open data about services, and extend that to third parties.

This publication is important because where public money is spent it should create a public good. Opening the data is an effective way to help deliver this and make it more transparent.

Including open data in contracts

To ensure that data collected and used by contractors is also published as open data, an organisation can:

  • include this as a condition in the contract.
  • retain ownership of the data to publish it as open data themselves.

Open data about performance

Performance data and data related to how services are provided can also be required of a contractor, to be published as open data.

Past performance data helps potential suppliers to understand which parts of the contract are easy or difficult, and stimulates competition in tendering.

  • Legal requirements of datasets to use

In addition to the open licence, there are three legal requirements that need to be considered. You must:

  • Protect sensitive information like personal data.
  • Preserve the rights of data owners.
  • Promote the correct use of the data.



Mission 5 – Reading Text


In this section we’ll explore the following: How to unlock value from open data

  • Opportunities for governments
  • Impact on society and public policy
  • Benefiting culture and the environment
  • Opportunities for governments

Supporting growing economies

To support the emergence of new data-driven businesses and the growth of existing ones, governments need to publish key datasets. Governments also need to support data infrastructure that connects data with those who use it. In return, governments are reaping the benefits of a growing data economy, such as in Finland where SMEs with access to open data grew 15% faster than those without.

Improved service delivery

Governments need to balance the demands of growing populations with the need to tackle small-scale, local issues. The availability of detailed open data is essential to improving delivery of services at the local level.

For instance, mySociety is a not-for-profit social enterprize based in UK that gives people the power to get things changed across the area of Democracy, Freedom of Information and Better Cities.

Cost savings

By growing economies and improving services, open data allows governments to make savings in key areas, such as healthcare, education and utilities.

In the UK, a startup used open data and helped reveal £200 million of savings in the health service.

In France, energy data is being used to drive more efficient energy generation practices.

Open data can also bring transparency to budgets. In Switzerland, the canton of Bern presented their €400m annual saving to the public using open data.

  • Impact on society and public policy

Open data is unlocking new social value and enabling better targeted public policies.

Improve transportations

Open data has the power to revolutionise the way we travel.

Within the Dutch transport industry, open data is helping a growing number of small companies to develop new services.

A new Dutch app GoOV, winner of the prestigious Apps4Europe competition, helps disabled people to book travel assistance for their journeys using open data.

Open transport data saves commuters time, makes journeys more accessible and helps tourists to travel in unfamiliar cities.

Improve the way we work

Open data is changing the way we work. Open data reduces the time needed to find information and allows professionals to focus more of their time on productive activities.

OpenCorporates offers an open database of companies around the world, showing their networks, financial stability and environmental impact. This helps organisations learn more about prospective clients, providers and partners.

Improve governmental decisions

Open data is becoming a key source of evidence for governments in the policymaking process. Open data is also making the development of public policy more transparent and supporting dialogue between governments and citizens.

Open data on key issues such as immigration, trade and budget cuts can be used to inform important policy decisions.

For example, an analysis of the open data around fire station closures in London helped demonstrate which stations could be closed with the least impact on services.

  • Benefiting culture and the environment

Open data is helping people target initiatives for cultural and environmental benefits.


Open data helps farmers to improve yields and support a growing population without the need to destroy valuable habitats.

Plantwise are collecting open data to produce valuable information packs for farmers about plant health and threats from diseases.

Saving lives

Open data is helping to save lives. Open geographic data and aid statistics are being used by humanitarian groups to deliver targeted supplies in disaster zones.

Open mapping data helped disaster response teams target aid delivery during the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

Open data is also being used to track the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa in 2015.


Open data is connecting people with important cultural issues and helping to shape a more informed debate around them.

OpenGLAM is helping to capture the heritage and cultural memories of groups in Germany, Switzerland and Finland.

The Open Data Institute is leading a global Data as Culture programme, with artists in residence re-examining the fundamental ways in which data is perceived.

Successful open data initiatives do more than simply put data on the Web. The most data-savvy organisations also put in place frameworks and policies to support and incentivize innovation. Open data communities need to be built and success stories communicated. Together, these will help more people understand the benefits of open data.

In this section we’ll explore the following:

  • Measuring success

When evaluating the success of an open data initiative, it is important to look beyond the quantity of data published and focus on demand for the data.

The Open Data Barometer provides a global measure for comparing countries’ progress. It uses three key indicators: readiness, implementation and impact.

Criteria for measuring success

Open data readiness

To what extent is an organisation or country ready to support an open data initiative?

The following are important indicators of readiness:

  • Open licences supported
  • Policies and procedures established
  • Investments made
  • Educational support available
  • Wider engagement undertaken


Open data implementation

Data is now as important to our national infrastructure as roads or internet access. For public bodies and governments, there are certain datasets that should be open as a way to support innovation, generate value and grow the economy.

Commercial organisations should also consider which datasets could be most useful to enhancing their business and finding new market opportunities.

Open data impact

What are the tangible, real-world benefits of the open data for users?

Without evidence of impact, communities are less likely to grow around the data and innovation can be less widespread. The following are important indicators of impact:

  • Increasing efficiency and transparency of government
  • Economic growth driven by open data
  • Social and environmental benefits



By |2016-10-25T15:34:17+00:00May 25th, 2016|missions|0 Comments