What is Open Data ?

What exactly is Open Data, what makes open data open, and what sorts of data are we talking about? According to the Open Data Handbook:

Open data is data that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone – subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and sharealike.

a) Availability and Access: the data must be available as a whole and at no more than a reasonable reproduction cost, preferably by downloading over the internet. The data must also be available in a convenient and modifiable form.

b) Re-use and Redistribution: the data must be provided under terms that permit re-use and redistribution including the intermixing with other datasets.

c) Universal Participation: everyone must be able to use, re-use and redistribute – there should be no discrimination against fields of endeavour or against persons or groups. For example, ‘non-commercial’ restrictions that would prevent ‘commercial’ use, or restrictions of use for certain purposes (e.g. only in education), are not allowed.

d) Interoperability: This interoperability is absolutely key to realizing the main practical benefits of “openness”: the dramatically enhanced ability to combine different datasets together and thereby to develop more and better products and services (these benefits are discussed in more detail in the section on ‘why’ open data).


5w of Open Data:

  1. Who are the actors involved?
  2. What are their motivations to share data? And, what can infrastructure do to motivate data sharing?
  3. Where can data be shared?
  4. When should they prepare to share data?
  5. Why consider data sharing?