Open data is defined simply by the Open Data Institute as “data that anyone can access, use and share”.
In practice there are a number of dimensions to the process of releasing open data to optimize access and re-use but the core principle is sound – data that is open promotes transparency for UK citizens, generates economic benefit through commercial re-use, and stimulates innovation in the creation of new tools and services which benefit users and consumers.
Open data has been, and continues to be, a key part of UK Government Strategy. The Open Data White Paper – ‘Unleashing the Potential’(June 2012) in particular set the scene for the emergence of extensive open data planning and actions within government departments covering public data sets.
Subsequently open data aspirations have been expressed and reinforced within a number of Government reviews and strategy documents including the Government Digital Strategy 2013. More recently, and specifically within the Higher Education context, Professor Sir Ian Diamond’s report onEfficiency, Effectiveness and Value for Moneyhighlighted the HE sector’s commitment to sharing data, and considered how more value might be derived by opening data held within and outside the sector.
A ‘Creating value from open data’ project to explore the opportunities and challenges of open data in higher education is being taken forward by Universities UK in partnership with the National Union of Students, Jisc and the Open Data Institute.HESA has contributed to a number of activities within this project, offering advice and expertise on higher education data.
Although HESA is not a government body and therefore not directly subject to government open data strategy and policy, the data resources we hold describe activities which are supported by significant public funds.