Open Data AHA!


‘Data’, refers to text, words, numbers, images, sound and video etc. (Hang on, what’s the difference between data and information? See this useful explanation.)


‘Open’ means that the publisher of the data has made it available with little or no restriction on its use, as set out in a licence. The most common licence for public sector in the UK, is the Open Government Licence, which is usually referred to by its acronym, OGL.There are lots of other licences. For a detailed overview, take a look at the Guide to Open Licensing.

According to the Open Data Institute (ODI):

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

That "Aha!" moment, when someone 'gets' open data

That “Aha!” moment, when someone ‘gets’ open data

There’s increasing evidence – from right across the world – that open data can help:

  • save lives
  • reduce costs
  • reduce crime
  • create wealth
  • educate people
  • improve health
  • increase efficiency
  • prevent corruption
  • support democracy
  • predict extreme events
  • inform decision-making
  • inspire new business models
  • create ‘smart’ or ‘smarter’ cities and communities
  • establish and maintain national /local infrastructure
  • do other neat stuff that we haven’t even imagined, yet…

Open Data stories – Tapping the source

The mouth of the Amazon River

The mouth of the Amazon River

Some organisations – like the Open Data Institute (ODI) and Open Knowledge Foundation (OKFN) – produce a constant flow of articles involving open data.

Others – like regional newspapers, charities, and individual bloggers – might mention ‘open data’ very rarely, and may not even use those words.

Some stories can be buried within academic research papers, written using language that only a few highly qualified people can understand.

With the ever-increasing flow of information, stories involving open data can be easily missed, or become difficult to find.

Open Data – Aha! is an experiment to tap open data-related stories at-source, add them to a larger pool, and begin to look for patterns, gaps, trends and techniques which might be re-usable elsewhere.

Useful resource?


Photo credits

Open Data Aha! courtesy of Matthew Buck of Drawnalism

Mouths of amazon geocover 1990“. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.