Government Tag

Top 21 Open Data sources

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Data is everywhere, created and used by just about anyone. The days when companies or individuals have to pay significant sums of money to access useful and interesting datasets is long gone. Here is our top 20 list of the best free data sources available online.


1. the UK government’s open data portal including the British National Bibliography – metadata on all UK books and publications since 1950.


2. Search through 194,832 USA data sets about topics ranging from education to Agriculture.


3. US Census Bureau latest population, behaviour and economic data in the USA.


4. Socrata – software provider that works with governments to provide open data to the public, it also has its own open data network to explore.


5. European Union Open Data Portal thousands of datasets about a broad range of topics in the European Union.


6. European Data Portal is a European portal that harvests metadata from public sector portals throughout Europe. EDP therefore focuses on data made available by European countries. In addition, EDP also harvests metadata from ODP.


7.DBpedia crowd sourced community trying to create a public database of all Wikipedia entries.


8. The New York Times a searchable archive of all New York Times articles from 1851 to today.


9. datasets from all around the world collected in one place.


10. The World Factbook information prepared by the CIA about, what seems like, all of the countries of the world.


11. NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre data sets from the UK National Health Service.


12. detailed USA healthcare data covering loads of health related topics.


13. UNICEF statistics about the situation of children and women around the world.


14. World Health organisation statistics concerning nutrition, disease and health.


15. Amazon web services large repository of interesting data sets including the human genome project, NASA’s database and an index of 5 billion web pages.


16. Google Public data explorer search through already mentioned and lesser known open data repositories.


17. Gapminder a collection of datasets from the World Health Organisation and World Bank covering economic, medical and social statistics.


18.Google Trends analyse the shift of searches throughout the years.


19. Google Finance real-time finance data that goes back as far as 40 years.


20. UCI Machine Learning Repository a collection of databases for the machine learning community.


21.National Climatic Data Center world largest archive of climate data.


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Open Data in Government

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Open data has several definitions but our preferred one at Data To Value is from the Open Data Institute‘Open data is data that anyone can access, use and share.’ Simple really but there is a follow-on – ‘For data to be considered ‘open’, it must be published in an accessible format, with a license that permits anyone to access, use and share it’.


The growing open data movement is using these principles to make what is traditionally considered internal data more readily available to anyone who wishes to access it, use it and manipulate in any way, shape or form.


At national level in 2013 the UK along with the other G8 countries signed up to the Open Data Charter and committed to five key principles:


  • Open Data by Default
  • Quality and Quantity
  • Useable by All
  • Releasing Data for Improved Governance
  • Releasing Data for Innovation


This level of driver is helping government departments, agencies and local authorities to become more transparent and accountable while enabling tech entrepreneurs to create disruptive technology that benefits society. A 2013 study done by Deloitte estimates that the economic benefit of public sector information is worth around £1.8 billion, with social benefits amounting to £5 billion. The study highlights that the use and re-use of public information helps organisations and individuals in the following ways:


  • Fuel innovation – develop new products and services.
  • Increase the accountability of public service providers, improve engagement rates of individuals in the democratic function, increase transparency and help better policymaking.
  • Reduce barriers to entry for markets with information asymmetry.
  • Inform people about the social issues happening around them.


Some case studies include:


  • Publishing Open Data on cardiac surgery that had positive impacts on mortality rates with an economic value of £400 million p.a.
  • Providing Open Data streams – the clear benefits is evident in many mobile apps, for example tracking congestion zones and helping users find alternative routes or live transport information such as the next bus.
  • The use of live weather data to identify if users are in danger of storms, floods, snow or other hazards has an estimated economic value between £15 million and £58 million p.a..


Open Data is beginning to affect us all and it is important to use sound Data Management principles to achieve public trust and to deliver the maximum benefit.

For more information on how Data To Value could help develop your Open Data Strategy click here

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