When Open Data Isn’t Useful Data

Four Common Problems with Open Data, and How to Fix them with ArcGIS Online
Organizations create and manage a vast amount of data. Many of these organizations, such as government agencies, desire or are required to share certain data with the public. This data, when freely available for people to obtain, use, and redistribute, is called open data.
Open data is important for transparency and fostering innovation. Open data is also important for ensuring data integrity.
But just being “open” often isn’t enough–your open data also needs to be useful data.
Open data is most useful when it is discoverable, accessible, explorable, and collaborative.
Your Data Isn’t Discoverable
To be useful, people must first be able to find your open data.
Open data made available through Esri’s ArcGIS Online is easily discovered by the public. Not only does ArcGIS Online provide a web interface where people can search for the open data they are interested in, it also allows users to discover data through a general web search or by getting recommendations or notifications of new and relevant data.

ArcGIS Online for open data makes your data discoverable, accessible, explorable, and collaborative within minutes.
Your Data Isn’t Accessible
People must be able to access your open data to freely reuse and integrate it into their own tools and applications.
Data can be made available via a wide variety of mediums, such as APIs, web services, and common data formats. Ideally, the data is made available via multiple media that conform to open industry standards. Esri shapefile (SHP) is an open data format and industry standard. Additional open standards for geospatial data are managed by the Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc., and include KML. The widespread comma-separated value (CSV) data format for storing tabular data is also commonly used for sharing geospatial data. ArcGIS Online can automatically make your data available in these common formats for anyone to use.
Your Data Isn’t Explorable
If people can’t filter, visualize, and analyze your open data, as well as combine it with other datasets, they won’t be able to use it to answer questions and make new discoveries.
Open data enhancements in ArcGIS Online are integrated into the ArcGIS platform, which allows people to combine open data with other datasets in ArcGIS Online or to bring the data into ArcGIS for Desktop for advanced geospatial analysis. By adhering to the open standards mentioned above, the data is also usable in other programs, such as spreadsheet or statistics packages, for additional analysis.
Your Data Inhibits Collaboration
For your open data to be truly useful, people must be able to share the results of their exploration and analysis with the public and back to the data provider.
The whole point of open data is to make it broadly available so more people have access to it and can derive real value from it and then share it back with the community. ArcGIS Online includes capabilities for sharing and disseminating open data, such as creating web and mobile applications. This opens up the results for feedback and improvements that lead to further exploration and analysis, helping organizations and their data to become an important part of the growing open data community.
Make Useful Open Data
Not all open data is useful.  Open Data for ArcGIS makes data discoverable, accessible, explorable, and collaborative within minutes.
Through a collaborative and social web application, data creators and publishers can share their authoritative open data with the world quickly, reliably, and seamlessly from their existing ArcGIS Online infrastructure.
If you don’t already have ArcGIS Online and want to see how easy it is to share your open data, sign up for a free 30-day trial.

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