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Who would have thought that the Prime Minister and inventor of the internet would be interested in that spreadsheet on your computer? More than just a hot topic, recent legislative and government initiatives such as data.gov.uk and INSPIRE have made it a reality for organisations to exchange data in an open manner. But do you know what it really means, how it affects you and what you can do to easily unlock and exploit the benefits?
There’s so much data out there, stored in various ways: enterprise databases, spreadsheets, word documents, pdfs, access databases or even floating around in a text file on some obscure corporate network – it’s all data. With all this inconsistency, data can’t even be found let alone be used to the benefit of the taxpayer. Sharing data between organisations is a major challenge. And the challenge doesn’t stop at the inter-organisational level.
The benefits of true Open Data are great; Eliminating the barriers and pain of data sharing and publication means a more informed general public; Access without restriction and a standard methodology that removes the technological challenges of sharing and re-using the data. Geospatial data has to be part of Open Data because everything happens at a place, whether that be a house, post code, county or country. We often see Geospatial data as special, but the reality is it’s just data and should be Open Data where it can be linked with other information such as Finance or Logistics to provide the complete picture.