‘Open data’ is the belief that information should be freely and easily available for everyone to use and re-use as they wish without the need to comply with complex licensing requirements.
Governments around the world have been investing heavily in opening up data in this way – the data.gov.uk portal was launched in 2009, and at the start of 2013 the European Union (EU) Commission began the rollout of its own open data portal. Rachel Bruce, director of digital infrastructure innovation at Jisc says: “For government bodies, opening up access to data allows them to be seen as transparent in their decision-making and dealings. It also helps to engage their citizens and speed up innovative processes.”
The message boards on the data.gov.uk website show that not-for-profit organisations and commercial operations are using open data to develop products and services – it’s being used in data modelling for insurance purposes, to spot and analyse public health trends, and to map crime and accident blackspots.
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