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Welcome to Open Government Data

This website is a project and home of the Working Group on Open Government Data at the Open Knowledge Foundation. To participate in the discussion, join the open-government mailing list.

What is Open Government Data

This site is about open government data. But what is open government data? Open government data means:

  • Data produced or commissioned by government or government controlled entities
  • Data which is open as defined in the Open Definition – that is, it can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone.

Why Open Government Data?

Why should government data be open? There are three main reasons:

  1. Transparency. In a well-functioning, democratic society citizens need to know what their government is doing. To do that, they must be able freely to access government data and information and to share that information with other citizens. Transparency isn’t just about access, it is also about sharing and reuse — often, to understand material it needs to be analyzed and visualized and this requires that the material be open so that it can be freely used and reused.
  2. Releasing social and commercial value. In a digital age, data is a key resource for social and commercial activities. Everything from finding your local post office to building a search engine requires access to data, much of which is created or held by government. By opening up data, government can help drive the creation of innovative business and services that deliver social and commercial value.
  3. Participatory Governance. Much of the time citizens are only able to engage with their own governance sporadically — maybe just at an election every 4 or 5 years. By opening up data, citizens are enabled to be much more directly informed and involved in decision-making. This is more than transparency: it’s about making a full “read/write” society, not just about knowing what is happening in the process of governance but being able to contribute to it.

Read more about open data and the reasons for making data open.

The Open Data Film

Find out more about what what open government data is and what it is good for by watching our short film

The Open Knowledge Foundation would like to thank everyone who has helped to translate this film. See here for the full list of translators. If you would like to add or edit a translation, please complete the following form