Open Data: Lots talk but few make... What are we talking about?
The Covid-19 crisis lights for large public the importance of Open Data. As we used open data to build our Covid19 dashboard, we propose to share here on what is exactly Open Data and some tips to find them. Of course, we'll focused on our current exemple covid-19, but keep in mind that's the approach can be enlarge to any topic...
What is open data?
When we talk about Open Data, we refer on data that anyone can access, use and share.
Looks easy, but in comon life, that means 3 qualities:
1-Available: The data should be easy reachable on public websites for exemple and can be downloaded
2-Readable: If you need to buy a license to read and use the data, that's not true open data. Basically, data should be in open licence format (CSV, RDF, XML, JSON, PDF... ) to allow anyone to use them
3-No Limitation: Everyone can use the data in any way including transformation, combining, reuse and share even commercially.
Where can we find open data?
Good news: open data sources are increasing more and more and we guess that's a deep trend for future years!
We sum up 8 main sources and that's a roadmap to help you to look for open data on your current topics. if you never had a look on existing open data, we really invite you to make it as soon as possible. Free, available and no limitation data are goldmine.. Data is an asset and the usual way is to lock, protect, sell them more than to open access... So enjoy them!
1-World Organisations: There are plenty and most of them provide open data. On Covid-19, the WHO is of course a classical source. We also notice that European Union launches a new data portal fully dedicated on the topic and data usage to accelerate research and collaboration.
If you look for an large overview of international organisations, wikipedia is you're friend ;-) and displays an exhaustif list.
2-Governements & states: Some are pionneers on open data projects like US, United-Kingdom, Canada, Australia and also France. Most of countries gather and make available data on various fields like education, environement, economy, social, justice... Covid-19 speed up the opening and lots of initiatives. Whatever is your country, we bet you'll find data regarding covid-19 situation and consequences.
3-Public institutions: When you look for precise and detailed informations, the public institutions like health institutions in Covid-19 topic are good relays. They publish focused information mostly for specialits. We can quote for purpose the french and now famous Méditerranée Infection Foundation releases open data on Covid-19 treatments ways.
4-Regional Administrations: Large town and areas have often open-data portal. Just have a look on your current area and surely you'll find some data available. On Paris open data, the big headline on Covid-19 shows up the map of the Click and Collect shops to better respect the lockdown. Yes Food is still a main interest for french people ;-)
5-Enterprises: Open data is not exclusive for public or nonprofit organisations. Some companies make internal data availableand transportation or energy are exemples. On Covid-19, as we quoted the famous Méditerranée Infection Foundation, we also need to talk about pharmaceutical company Gilead which exposes its current medicines trials results.
6-Universities-Academies: Their culture is often to share and collaborate, so open data is usually a common practice for them. Today, we all know John Hopkins University as a pionneer on covid-19 open data. Media all over the world have used their dashboard on Covid-19 progression.
7-Geeks : Maybe you're surprised... but Geeks are very organised and like share, collaborate to find out solution. And they build the good and efficient tools to allow the full efficiency of their community. One is Github, and I know that's you think that not for you but don't leave too fast... Github is a giant platform for open source developments, so coders love it, but we love it too because it gathers actually the largest open data deposit with over 42 000 repositories on Covid-19! You must know that World Organisation like WHO, Governements like american or french , universities like Jhon Hopkins have their open data on Github. So it's the place to be. It's simple to access the datasets and dowload them on your local environnement to use them on your own way. We'll give you tips on next publications!
8-Citizens-associations: Non governmental associations and citizens can organize to collect then share data to sustain their aims and make think. One recent popular example is Open Food Facts project that use data crowdsourcing to collect all information on food product thanks to citizens. On covid-19, a similar initiative emerged on early march in US with the COVID Tracking Project based on volunteers to collect data testing and patients outcomes over the full country areas.
You and Open Data
Now you know a bit more on open data and where you find precious information. Are all sources in quality and reliable? We can't have a definite word on this point because data quality is complexe and the veracity more over. But surely, we all have to deal with open data one day and on other one so it's good time to take a interest on this topic whatever you are data consummer, providers or both.
The open data approach is born with the strong idea that's some data are part of the common Good. Opening the data covers Philosophy questions, public policy and very pragmatic aspects to sucess a large and good dissemanation to public in a true general interest.
Covid-19 pandemia is a hard but significant milestone shows up the benefits of open data for stakeholders of the crisis... All are concerned and all look for a way to mesure, understand, forecast, reduce the impact of the virus, from Governements to citizen, Researchers to operational medical teams, enterprises to academics... Open data is nowaday as concreate as ever for Common Good... And surely a pragmatic way to promote collaboration and new approaches to solve issues.
Stayed tuned, next publication on step by step building your own dashboard is coming soon!