The answer is a little more complex than merely ‘data that anyone can access, use and share because the open data initiative was created by Tim Berners-Lee (the creator of the World Wide Web). The Open Data Institute’s Open Definition states: “Open data is data that is freely used, re-used and redistributed.” It also states that “Universal participation is required.” This means that it must not exclude specific fields of endeavour as well as individuals or organizations and doesn’t impose any restrictions on commercial use, nor restrict the intermixing of data sets.”

A format that is accessible is another crucial aspect for making data useful. Datasets must be saved in a format which is easily accessible, can be downloaded and processed by computer applications, and can be updated automatically whenever new data is published. Furthermore, they need to be capable of being linked so that they can provide context and enable new analyses to be developed.

The final component of a successful open-data initiative is that the focus needs to be on the most pressing issues facing your organization or government. This will ensure that the funds allocated to open-data initiatives are used on those initiatives which are most likely for positive results and create sustainable value. This could be in the form of increasing the number of jobs created, enhancing resource sustainability or transparency or encouraging community involvement.