ODI Summit Take Out: Open Data To Be Considered Infrastructure

This week The ODI, which Ontotext supports from their Day One, held their second Summit with prominent speakers as Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Martha Lane Fox and Sir Nigel Shadbolt, plus a range of speakers from business, government, the arts, startups and charities.

What is Open Data

“Open data is data that anyone can access, use or share. Simple as that. When big companies or governments release non-personal data, it enables small businesses, citizens and medical researchers to develop resources which make crucial improvements to their communities.” as defined by The ODI.

The Government’s Role in Opening Data

The infrastructural investments are government priority when we speak about railways, motorways or utility supply networks. Internet distribution, however, was initially distributed over private networks build by enthusiasts and small companies, before mobile operators considered it as asset. What about Data as Infrastructure?

The digital agenda of the European Commission lists a number of Open Data portals and other initiatives, however they use a wide variety of formats for data representation and access.

“The effort on Open Data shouldn’t stop with opening data” was an important point made by Hetan Shah, Executive Director at Royal Statistical Society. The Royal Statistical Society published a “Data Manifesto” in September 2014. It describes ten recommendations and focuses on how the UK government can improve data for policymaking, democracy and for prosperity.

The UK government’s respond is their commitment of “Making data a public asset through infrastructure”. Matt Hancock, the Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, in made clear commitment to quality and usefulness of Open Data:

This starts with the dog-fooding principle… In short, one of the best ways to make sure our open data is of high quality is if we use it in our day-to-day operations.

Is Open Data a Silver Bullet?

Data types by access

The ODI’s is committed to bring awareness and consideration to Open Data and its role in the data spectrum. Then it’s important to discuss three types of data:

  • Closed Data – “Data that can only be accessed by its subject, owner or holder”
  • Shared Data – “Data that is shared only with named people or organisations, specific groups who meet certain criteria, or anyone under terms and conditions that are not ‘open’”
  • Open Data – “Open data is data that anyone can access, use or share”.


Data types by origin

Another take on the data classification was presented by Accenture‘s Jen Hawes-Hewitt . She emphasised on the role of all three origin of data:

  • Citizen’s data – “Crowd-sourced data from citizens”
  • Pubic Data – “Open Data sourced from the public sector”
  • Business Data – “Data sourced from business owners”.


Is Open Data Accessible and Useful as Linked Data?

Earlier this year MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) announced that it has received a $1 million gift from MasterCard that will go towards the research efforts of Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web.

“Right now we have the worst of both worlds, in which people not only cannot control their data, but also can’t really use it, due to it being spread across a number of different silo-ed websites,”

says Berners-Lee.

The concept of Linked Data as infrastructure for Open Data was coined around 2006 again by Tim Berners-Lee, at that time director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). As linkeddata.org – the single reference point to datasets available as Linked Data – state – there are 570 datasets available currently around three most connected ones, namely:

DBpedia – a dataset containing extracted data from Wikipedia
GeoNames – provides RDF descriptions of more than 7,500,000 geographical features worldwide.
statistics.data.gov.uk – Linked data about administrative areas and statistical geographies required for UK government official statistics.

Linked Data is recommended best practice for exposing, sharing, and connecting pieces of data, information, and knowledge on the Semantic Web using unique identifiers (URIs) and W3C standards for data representation (RDF) and data access (SPARQL).

UK Government already considered Linked Data as the approach for opening datasets. Shell it be applied to all Open Data initiatives, we’ll see!

Linked Data is the approach Ontotext support in all our products and solutions.

Milena Yankova

Milena Yankova

Director Global Marketing at Ontotext
A bright lady with a PhD in Computer Science, Milena's path started in the role of a developer, passed through project and quickly led her to product management. For her a constant source of miracles is how technology supports and alters our behaviour, engagement and social connections.
Milena Yankova

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