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Considerations of Open Data

What is Open Data?

Data offers insight and knowledge, and can be used for forecasting and modelling when it is inter-agency and links multiple sources and resolves to the level of an individual, family, household or place. Open Data is the idea that some data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control.


Open Data Formats

There are a number of common formats for Data Hubs that approach the task of sharing, processing and publishing data in different ways. Two of the most common are Data Warehouses and Data Lakes, each having their own benefits and risks to successful service delivery.

  • Data Warehouses store data into files or folders in a traditional sense with datasets often cleaned into a schema and catalogued using metadata upon upload. However, some datasets with vastly different schemas may not be accepted by the warehouse
  • Data Lakes store data in a flat, centralised hierarchy, usually in its raw version. This means that all types of data and schemas will fit in the lake, allowing visualisation and business intelligence tools to quickly and easily build links between data. Due to the characteristic openness of Lakes, Data Swamps can form if data is not updated or is in a format that can provide no insight to users.


Considerations and Risks

The removal of restrictions on data sharing to make it ‘Open’ does however raise a number of risks and considerations that need to be taken into account. These include:

  • Information Governance
  • Anonymisation
  • Data management
  • Providing Services/Value
  • Software Delivery Model
  • Scalability
  • Standards


Open Data can prove hugely beneficial when the service is married with the right projects and deliverables, but it is important to consider the differences in technology and risk involved in each platform to allow for good scalability and reduced risk appetite once the open data platform is live.

Kent Connects is currently looking into Kent opportunities for aligning Open Data and Data Sharing across the Partnership. Kent is rife with enthusiasm for improving our use of technology and making better use of our data to help meet targets and improve services. We are moving forward but it’s a long road with many questions still to be answered.

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