Reply: open data is 'intellectual infrastructure'

Our embrace of so-called ‘open data’ is coming to the fore, but what is it, why does it matter and what role should it play in the wider development of enterprise technology infrastructures?

According to Jason Hill, Executive Partner from Reply, open data is as it sounds – open and accessible data that is available to anyone.

Hill further states that open data must be interoperable so it can be shared, adapted and reused with other datasets.

Why ask the somewhat obtusely ‘new age’ named Reply?

Because the firm specialises in consulting, system integration and digital services, with a focus on the design and implementation of solutions based on the web and social networks – hence, it touches a lot of data and an increasing amount of that information is starting to be pushed towards open data frameworks.

The Open Data Institute states that open data is only useful if it’s shared in ways that people can actually understand. It needs to be shared in a standardised format and easily traced back to where it came from.

Intellectual infrastructure

So open data is data that is freely available to anyone to analyse, process and republish without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control.

According to Hill, “Open data should be considered intellectual infrastructure, as essential to the smooth running of our societies as roads and railways and critical to the insights of private enterprise. Open data lets people identify trends, fill gaps and collaborate on large scale projects. For example, open data help city planners (and citizens) analyse and interpret people movements and predict individual journeys based on factors like disrupted transport and weather patterns so they can provide intuitive and smart city solutions for their citizens. In healthcare, open data helps researchers identify large-scale trends and ‘causational’ factors to illness that could lead to disease reduction or improved treatments.”

Reply’s Jason Hill reminds us that examples of open data include interactive maps, historical weather data, flight plans, government spending and new scientific records.

CWDN readers may wish to note that the annual Reply Code Challenge is a team programming competition open to students and professional coders.

The Reply Code Challenge.

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