Open data is one of those refreshing trends that flows in the opposite direction of the culture of fear that has developed around data security. Instead of putting data under lock and key, surrounded by firewalls and sandboxes, some organizations see value in making data available to all comers -- especially developers.
The GovLab.org, a nonprofit advocacy group, published an overview of the benefits governments and organizations are realizing from open data, as well as some of the challenges. The group defines open data as "publicly available data that can be universally and readily accessed, used and redistributed free of charge. It is structured for usability and computability."
Dr. Kirk Borne published a list of some of the leading open data repositories on the scene today, published an exhaustive list of public data providers, which includes a gazillion sources of government data for use by developers, researcher, and all other interested parties.
For enterprises and developers, one of the most exciting aspects of the open data movement is the APIs that are increasingly emerging to provide connections to various, and often long-obscured data resources. As Borne explains it, open data repositories provide a lot of advantages -- such as providing transparency, and serving as the fuel for innovation and transformation. Open data sets also "allow many more eyes to look at the data and thereby to see things that might have been missed by the creators and original users of the data."
Consider the three different APIs offered by the World Bank, for example, which provide details on World Bank projects and finances, or the US government's APIsfor accessing everything from weather data to population distruibition,
For enterprises, an open-data stance may be the fuel to build a vibrant ecosystem of developers and business partners.