Open data, put simply, is information that has been made publicly available to everyone to access, use and share. It can be used by individuals, enterprises, and public organisations to enhance what they do by analysing patterns and making data-driven decisions. Open data should be easy to access by everyone and easy to understand. It’s not the same as ‘big data’ which means a lot of data, such as large public government datasets like those released by the Office for National Statistics. However, ‘big data’ can also be open data if it is available for public use. Open data will become increasingly important in the future by allowing greater transparency, especially in relation to government information. Open data can also be of benefit to wider society by providing insights and information to aid the creation of new research projects, such as improving access to healthcare. Ultimately, open data is democratic and has the power to transform business, government and society.
The Southern Policy Centre specialises in research using open data and open data principles
The SPC uses open data for its research projects to drive more informed public policy decisions; devolution; health and social care; and addressing inequalities in, for example, Higher Education to people from the more deprived pockets of the South. Data held by local councils was used in our 2016 study on Widening Participation in Higher Education. SPC is proud to host ODI Hampshire, part of the Open Data Institute‘s worldwide network. We also host and run events like Using data as a policy maker, and participate in events run by others, like the excellent DEFRA Datamash, which was held at Ordnance Survey’s Southampton HQ in June 2017. In 2017, we ran a workshop on behalf of the Open Data Institute which focused on the publishing of statistical data. Future projects, including ‘Smart South’ which is currently in development, will aim to find technological solutions to technical problems based on the use of robust local data.