Open Data definition: what is it? What’s the point ?
Open Data, or open data, is data to which access is completely public and free of rights, in the same way as exploitation and reuse. This data offers many opportunities to expand human knowledge and create new quality products and services. Discover a complete definition and concrete examples of the use of Open Data.
Open data: standardized definition
The term Open Data refers to data that anyone can access, that anyone can use or share. The essential criteria of Open Data are availability, reuse and distribution, and universal participation . This is the definition given by the Open Knowledge Foundation in 2005.
Availability and access : Data must be fully accessible, at a reasonable cost of reproduction. Preferably, they are downloaded from the Internet. The shape must be comfortable and changeable.
Reuse and redistribution : Data must be provided under conditions allowing reuse and redistribution, including mixing with other data sets.
Universal participation : Everyone must be able to use, reuse and redistribute data. There should be no discrimination regarding the purpose of use, or against individuals or groups. For example, non-commercial restrictions that prevent commercial use, or restrictions on use in certain sectors, are not compatible with Open Data.
These three criteria are the essence of Open Data, because they allow interoperability. Interoperability refers to the ability of different companies or systems to work together. In this case, interoperability is the ability to mix different sets of data .
Interoperability, the essence of Open Data
This interoperability is important because it allows different components to work together. This is what creates large and complex systems. Without interoperability, it is simply impossible. We can take as an example the myth of the Tower of Babel . In this legend, impossible communication completely prevents the construction of the tower.
In the case of data, pooling is based on the possibility of freely mixing this data . This interoperability is essential to reap the benefits of openness. It is then possible to develop products and services in greater quantity and of better quality.
This interoperability is not only based on data sharing. The data sets must use a common programming language or a programmatic element must act as intermediary between this information. For this, the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) advocates the application of Open Data standards. They make it possible to meet this need for communication. This requires the use of semantic web language, which facilitates the classification and search of data.
The creator of the data must in this case respect specific criteria: certify the origin of the data, indicate the linked metadata (typically the date and time of creation), guarantee the quality of the information and if possible its author, etc.
Data from all sectors
The term Open Data can apply to information from any source, on any subject . Anyone can offer data under open license for free use so that the public benefits. Most of the time, open data comes from government and the public sector. These are usually budgets, maps, or results from scientific research. However, companies, universities, NGOs, startups, charitable foundations, communities or individuals can also offer Open Data.
We find open information in the sectors of 11, science, products, education, environment, cartography, libraries, economy, culture, development, business, of design or finance . The term also applies to data ( including Big Data ) and content such as images, text and music.
In general, Open Data is only non-personal data . That is to say that these data do not include any information on individuals, for obvious reasons of respect for private life.
Legal and technical opening
According to Open Definition, Open Data is legally and technically open. Legal openness means that access to data is legal , in the same way as exploitation, sharing and modification. In general, a license provided for this purpose authorizes free access and reuse, or places the data in the public domain.
Technical openness means that there should be no technical barriers to the use of the data . For example, printing the data on paper makes it very difficult to access the data. The data must therefore be machine readable and fully accessible.
Open Data must be usable by anyone, no matter when, where , or what the person intends to do with this data. There should be no restrictions, including for commercial purposes . Open data must be accessible free of charge, in digital format, and downloadable from the internet. Users manipulate them using a computer. Their transmitters therefore make them accessible and compatible with other games in order to facilitate comparisons.
Also according to the Open Definition, it is not possible to place conditions on the use of Open Data. However, a data provider may require that users credit it and state if the data has been changed, and that new sets of data obtained using that data are also shared openly.
Since 2007, the Advisory Council has governed Open Definition . This group maintains and develops the official definition of open data. It extends Open Definition for the general benefit of the community. It decides which licenses fall within the framework of Open Definition.
The community manages the council. Of new members can be admitted at any time by the existing members . They are selected for their demonstrated knowledge and skills in the Council’s area of influence. Anyone can join the mailing list of this Council.
The Open Definition has existed since 2005. The Open Knowledge Foundation created it with the participation of many people. The definition is based directly on the Open Source Definition of the Open Source Initiative . Most of the main principles applied to open source software have been reused and applied to data and content. This definition is available in over 30 different languages, thanks to the many translators in the community.
This Open Definition exists in version 2.1, since November 10, 2015 . Version 2.0, considered the most important update in the history of this text, was released in October 2014. It follows numerous conversations between community experts from the fields of open data, ‘open access, open culture, open education, open government, and open source. While keeping the essentials, this update brings a new structure, a rewriting of the text and a new process for the attribution of the licenses.
Examples of use of Open Data
Open Data, and more particularly government data, is a precious resource . Many individuals and other companies collect different types of data in order to better accomplish their tasks. Governments in particular collect huge amounts of centralized data, made public by law. Many other entities benefit from it.
This data can be useful in many sectors, to diverse groups of people and other organizations , including governments themselves. However, it is impossible to predict precisely how and in which area value will be created in the future, even if many benefits have already been generated from Open Data.