This section of the toolkit provides a summary of the essential elements of open government data, starting with its definition and covering issues from open data portals, applications that use open data, the benefits of open data, open data policy declarations, learning resources and technical assistance resources for open data. The toolkit provides links to many examples of these.

What is Open Data?

Data is open if it satisfies both conditions below:

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Examples of Open Data Portals

In this section you can find links to a few open data portals. These are classified by countries, cities and sectors.

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Open Data Benefits

There are many benefits from opening data. These can be classified as economic benefits (growth and job creation), improved public services and more transparent and accoutnable government. Below you can find some studies that explain and try to quantify these benefits.

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Open Data Applications

Machine readibility and an open license allow data to be re-used, which is the main reason for opening data. Below you will find some examples of applications that use open data, classified by sectors.

  • Civic Commons – repository of government and civic apps for Open Data and Open Government
  • Socrata Open Data Applications – repository of examples of how Open Data is enabling civic applications.
  • Apps for Development – challenged people to create innovative tools, applications, and mash-ups using the data available through the World Bank’s Open Data Initiative
  • Apps for Climate – brought together the best ideas from scientists, application developers, civil society organizations, and development practitioners to create innovative apps using World Bank data
  • mWater – mobile technology for water, sanitation and health
  • Save the Rain – the World Bank predicts alarming drops in annual rainfall worldwide.
  • OpenSpending – tracks government financial transactions across the world and present them in useful and engaging forms for everyone from a school-child to a data geek
  • BrightScope – brings transparency to opaque markets. Primarily operates in two major segments: Retirement Plans and Wealth Management
  • Spikes Cavell – equips decision makers in the public sector with the business intelligence, online tools and analytical insight they need in order to transform the way they procure goods and services
  • Elgin (UK street works) – delivers real-time access to local roadworks information across nearly 100 local authorities as well as motorways and trunk routes across England and Wales. Users are able to view precisely where and when roadworks are taking place, who is responsible for them, and assess the likely impact on journey times
  • PoliceUK – provides street-level crime and outcomes maps and data, and details of the local policing team and beat meetings
  • CheckMySchool – participatory monitoring program that combines the use of digital technology and community mobilization to provide easy access to information, provide a platform for sending feedback through online and offline means, and help resolve education issues
  • Merge of HealthFacility – a health facilities location application from the Ghana Open Data Initiative (GODI) at NITA
  • Ecofacts – small app to learn about energy consumption, climate change and what you can do about it
  • Moldova BOOST – collects and compiles detailed data on Moldovan public expenditures from national treasury systems and presents it in a simple user-friendly format
  • African Budget Data Explorer – 'explorable' time series visualizations of African budgets, which enable users to 'Follow the Money', to unpack & understand budget priorities and, ideally, inform election priorities & voice opinions to ensure services are responsive budget
  • GotToVote! – was built as a Code4Kenya data journalism project to demonstrate how data-driven tools can help ordinary citizens decipher and then act on the news they read / watch, by finding out how a national event such as the elections affects their personal lives or local communities
  • DataViva – is opening up data for the entire formal sector of the Brazilian economy through more than 100 million interactive visualizations.

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Open Data Policies

Many governments have made public policy statements regarding open data. Below you will find a brief on the purpose and guidance to the content that these policy declarations should include, followed by several examples of such declarations.

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Open Data Learning Resources

If you want to learn more about open data you can refer to these materials.

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Technical Assistance for Open Data

There are several institutions, communities of practice and financers that can provide advice and financing for open government data. Below are some examples.


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