What Is Open Data?

Open Data is Data That Anyone Can Access, Use and Share. Governments, Businesses And Individuals Can Use Open Data to Bring About Social, Economic And Environmental Benefits.

Specifically, open data needs to be

A. Legally open: that is, available under an open (data) license that permits anyone to freely access, reuse and redistribute 

B. Technically open: that is, the data be available for no more than the cost of reproduction and in machine-readable and bulk form.


The term “open data” refers to publicly available data structured in a way that enables the data to be fully discoverable and usable by end users.

In general, open data will be consistent with the following principles ->

  1. Public. 

  2. Accessible.

  3. Described. 

  4. Reusable. 

  5. Complete. 

  6. Timely. 

  7. Managed Post-Release.


  1. Public. Organizations must adopt an opinion in favor of openness and publish data to the extent permitted by law and subject to privacy, confidentiality, security, or other valid restrictions.
  2. Accessible. Open data are made available in convenient, modifiable, and open formats that can be retrieved, downloaded, indexed, and searched. Formats should be machine-readable (i.e., data are reasonably structured to allow automated processing). Data should be made available to a maximum range of users for the widest range of purposes.
  3. Described. Open data are described with additional information or metadata. This involves the use of robust, granular metadata (i.e., fields or elements that describe data), thorough documentation of data elements, data dictionaries, and, if applicable, additional descriptions of the purpose of the collection, the population of interest, the characteristics of the sample, and the method of data collection.
  4. Reusable. Open data are made available under an open license that places no restrictions on their use.
  5. Complete. Open data are published in primary or raw forms (i.e., as collected at the source), with the finest possible level of granularity that is practicable and permitted by law and other requirements. Derived or aggregate open data should also be published but must reference the primary data.
  6. Timely. Open data are made available as quickly as necessary to preserve the value of the data.
  7. Managed Post-Release. A point of contact, such as a publisher or maintainer email, must be designated to assist with data use and to respond to complaints.



Whitehouse Memorandum M-13-13, https://project-open-data.cio.gov/policy-memo/