Our commitment to open data
The following was originally posted as a guest post on the Open Knowledge Foundation Blog.
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We just launched an offering of statistics from some of the world’s most important sources of open data on DataMarket.com. This enables users to find, compare, visualize and download statistics from organizations such as the UN, World Bank, Eurostat, Gapminder and others in a single place.
As I’ve previously written in a guest post here on the OKFN blog, I believe that the real opportunity in open data lies in helping people discover all the data that is becoming available, see its potential and realize how they can make use of it to run their businesses better, make better decisions and identify new opportunities.
However, I do not believe that this opportunity lies in taking data from open data sources and locking it behind pay walls. On the contrary, I believe that the opportunity lies in making it as freely and easily available to everybody as is utterly possible.
I believe that it’s not only possible to do that and still run a successful, commercial service. In my mind, a commitment to keeping open data truly open is a vital part of the strategy. Let me explain how.
Data that is already open and available for free elsewhere will still be open and free for everyone on DataMarket, just easier to search, compare, download and analyze in a single place. That way, we believe we’re adding substantial value to the original data sources for free. As we add more and more data, users will find more and more of the data they need in this single place. We hope this will build a substantial, happy audience.
A part of that audience may want to upgrade to a pro subscription, thereby getting access to even more functionality and value-add.
Within a few weeks, DataMarket users will also find data sets from premium data providers such as market research companies, financial markets and research analysts. We are – after all – building a “data market”, and while a lot of good statistics are available for free, much of the deeper analysis is only available from commercial organizations. Those that have the reason and budget to go for that option, can then do that and still find all the available data in one place.
The range of data available on DataMarket.com is already quite extensive. More than 13,000 data sets with almost 100 million time series on everything from the yield of oranges in Cyprus (http://the.fact.is/i5xdGP) to US consumption of geothermal energy (http://the.fact.is/f8hblc). See more info in our blog post about the launch.
Some people seem to believe that open data and commercial business are somehow opposites. I’d like to argue that it is crucial for the success of open data that businesses – as well as the academia and the general public – are able to easily find and make use of all the good data that is becoming available, thereby proofing that the governments’ efforts are worth while. We definitely want DataMarket to be a part of making that happen.