[open-government] Defining Open Government Data?

Jonathan Gray jonathan.gray at okfn.org
Tue Oct 19 18:00:42 BST 2010

We'd like to start a process to encourage key stakeholders in the
(rapidly growing!) world of open government data to have some
consensus on what 'open government data' means. This would be a 'bare
minimum' that would need to be complied with in order to be called
OGD, not a wish list in an ideal world in perfect conditions.

We already have several sets of principles [1], but many of these are
quite jurisdiction specific -- e.g. according to 8 principles the
Australian, New Zealand and UK governments don't have any open
government data as it isn't 'license free', and the UK principles are
clearly only intended for the UK (and it would be good not to have a
different set of standards for each country!).

We'd like something *really* simple that we can start to try to build
consensus around. Hence I'd like to start discussion around a basic
definition/standard that we can all start to encourage the adoption
of, to distinguish open government data from e.g. a bunch of PDFs
published on a website with no information about reuse, or an API with
restrictive terms of use.

I envisage this as having two key components:

  (i) legally open (as in opendefinition.org)
  (ii) technically open (i.e. machine readable, available to download in bulk)

(i) would be to make sure that we don't start calling stuff 'open
government data' which:

  * doesn't explicitly let the public reuse it for any purpose
(whether as a result of national copyright law, or departmental
  * doesn't permit derivative works
  * doesn't permit commercial reuse

(ii) would be to make sure that material is not *only*:

  * available via an API
  * available in non-machine readable formats, where machine readable
copies exist

I've started a draft along these lines at:


Any input/comments would be very much appreciated! We'd ideally like
something ready at or just before Open Government Data Camp in London!


All the best,



Jonathan Gray

Community Coordinator
The Open Knowledge Foundation


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