Open data

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

As Open Data (in English open data , open data ' ) is data that can be used by anyone for any purpose, circulated and reused. Restrictions on use are only permitted in order to secure the origin and openness of the knowledge, for example by naming the author or using a share-alike clause .

The demand for this is based on the assumption that freely usable data lead to more transparency and collaboration. The economic value of open data from public administration was estimated by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung at 43.1 billion euros annually in 2016 . Free licenses are used to ensure reusability . The open data movement is part of the knowledge commons and shares many arguments with the related topics of open source , open content , open access and open education . The provision of open data by the public sector is seen as a prerequisite for open government .


Open data are all data stocks that are made freely accessible in the interest of the general public of society without any restriction for free use, further distribution and free further use. The scientific literature cites teaching material, geodata , statistics, traffic information, scientific publications , medical research results or radio and television broadcasts as examples . In addition to data from government agencies, open data can also include data from private companies, universities and non-profit institutions.

A more detailed definition of the criteria for open data was first published in 2006 by the Open Knowledge Foundation in the Open Definition . It should be emphasized that open data must not contain any personal data or data subject to data protection.

Suitable free licenses can be used to indicate the free usability of open data . Licenses that restrict the use of the data, for example by prohibiting changes or commercial use, do not comply with the agreement of the “ Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Scientific Knowledge ” and the open definition and are therefore not considered open data.


The concept behind Open Data can be traced back to the International Geophysical Year 1957 / -58 . The aim at that time was to facilitate the exchange and use of scientific data by setting up data exchange centers and standardizing metadata .

The term was first mentioned in a regulation in the 1970s . If international partners supported NASA through ground control stations in the operation of American satellites , the international agreements required that these partners introduce an open data policy (in the original open data policy ). This guideline had to make similar requirements for the public availability of data as the in-house guidelines of NASA and other participating US institutions. The format in which the data was provided was also specified.

In 1995 a report by the National Academy of Sciences looked at this and similar agreements on the exchange of scientific data:

“International programs for global change research and environmental monitoring crucially depend on the principle of full and open exchange…. Experience has shown that increased access to scientific data, information, and related products has often led to significant scientific discoveries and the opportunity for educational enhancement. "

“International world change research and environmental monitoring programs are critically dependent on the principle of full and open exchange ... Experience shows that increased access to scientific data, information and related findings often leads to significant scientific discoveries and opportunities for improved education Has."

- On the Full and Open Exchange of Scientific Data

This drive to freely share and reuse scientific data and findings also gave rise to the Open Access movement, which aims to make peer-reviewed research results freely accessible to the general public.

The concept of open data is not limited to scientific data, however. The concepts of open government and open data are closely related - in the United States the term open government data is also used, whereby this term means both “data that comes from an open government ” and “open data that comes from a government” can. In countries where transparent government action is guaranteed by freedom of information laws, citizens had a legal right to data from the government, but had to request them individually. With the spread of the World Wide Web in the 1990s , legislative initiatives arose in countries with a culture of freedom of information to make data about government activities available on the Internet in a machine-readable manner, even without prior request.

Open data law

In 2017, the Bundestag passed the so-called Open Data Act, according to which data from federal authorities should be made machine-readable and publicly available free of charge. However, it is criticized that there is no legal claim to the data and that there are far-reaching exceptions for publication.

Demands of the open data movement

Open data specifically refers to information that is not in text form , such as weather data, maps, genomes or medical data. Because this material is of commercial interest, there is often a contradiction here. Proponents of open data argue, however, that it is common knowledge and that the free use of the data should not be hindered by restrictions.

A typical case to show the need for open data:

“Numerous scientists have pointed out the irony that right at the historical moment when we have the technologies to permit worldwide availability and distributed process of scientific data, broadening collaboration and accelerating the pace and depth of discovery […] we are busy locking up that data and preventing the use of correspondingly advanced technologies on knowledge. "

“Many scientists have pointed out the irony that right now, at this point in history, when we have the technologies to make scientific data available and distributed around the world, where collaboration can be deepened and discovery can be accelerated, that is exactly At this point in time, we are spending our time on keeping this data locked and thus preventing the use of equally advanced technologies for their development. "

- John Wilbanks, Executive Director, Science Commons

Data producers often neglect the need to set user rights. For example, a lack of (possibly free) licensing can unnecessarily exclude data from further free use.

The open data movement not only demands free access to data, it also generates it itself. One example of this is OpenStreetMap . Proponents claim that the Open Data concept also enables a more democratic society - for example, the English website enables the voting behavior of British MPs to be tracked. In connection with data concerning a government, one also speaks of open government . Rob McKinnon said in a lecture at re: publica that "the loss of data privilege can lead to new power structures within a society". Another example is, which shows to whom EU farm subsidies are paid, which make up almost half of the total budget. German politicians in particular have long blocked this information from being made public.

Data that should meet the criteria of open data must be made available in a structured and machine-readable manner so that it can be filtered, searched and processed by other applications. Data from government agencies, for example, are often available as PDFs and can therefore not be processed without problems.

Pros and cons

Arguments for open data

  • “Data belongs to the people” - typical examples: genomes , medical research, environmental science data.
  • Public funds made the generation of the data possible in the first place, so they must also be publicly accessible (in fact, scientists usually transfer the rights to the data they generate to private publishers when they publish their results).
  • Facts cannot be subject to copyright .
  • The collaboration made possible by free access and use of the data expands the usable data and the benefits for the general public and the author. The most famous example of this is Wikipedia.
  • Research is funded when scientific findings are freely accessible to all researchers.
  • In the authorities money is saved because z. B. fewer or no more inquiries are made to the authorities.
  • Companies can make money more easily and better because the data required for certain projects is better or even available at all.
  • Citizens can find out more about their surroundings and better understand relationships, projects, and facts and figures.

Arguments against open data

  • Moral claim to copyright
  • The author wants to make financial profit
  • Protection of innovation through trademark and patent law. The author wants to protect his new ideas.
  • With open data, collections of information funded by tax money compete with commercial offers ( competition law , see also dispute on the Tagesschau app )
  • Due to the easy accessibility of data and possibly even the right to make changes to it, there is a risk that the data will be deliberately or unintentionally falsified.
  • Disclosing data makes it easier to misuse it. Examples are lists of security gaps in IT systems, data from weapons research, or publications on genetically modified, highly contagious bird flu viruses.
  • Privacy concerns, e.g. As if the behavior is recorded by individuals, and the records are not sufficiently anonymized were
  • Liability : Depending on whether the open data records are made available to the customer free of charge or commercially, the liability differs if these data records are used and if damage occurs. The legal situation regarding liability can vary greatly depending on the individual case.

Projects that offer open data

Project content License
Wikipedia Knowledge CC BY-SA
Wikidata Data CC0
OpenStreetMap Geographic data ODbL
PANGEA Earth system CC BY Data depending on the respective data sets
Berlin Data depending on the respective data sets
Hamburg Data depending on the respective data sets
Deutsche Bahn Data depending on the respective data sets
GDELT Project Data OGD various proprietary licenses OGD CC-BY-AT 3.0
e! DAL PGP Plant genome and phenomenon Creative Commons compatible licenses
Open food facts Food product database ODbL

Open data hackathons

The “Coding da Vinci” hackathon has been held annually in Germany since 2014 and calls on developers to develop applications that make data from cultural institutions usable. In contrast to classic hackathons, the participants in the "Coding da Vinci" have six to ten weeks to develop the software application. In 2015 the city of Freiburg im Breisgau organized an open data hackathon to make better use of the city's open data. In 2015, Deutsche Bahn launched a “DB Open Data Train Challenge” to develop a new kind of timetable display.

Closed data

There are various mechanisms to make free access to data and its free reuse more difficult:

  • Storage of the data in non- digitized (i.e. paper) form
  • Use of proprietary technologies (e.g. non-open file formats)
  • copyright
  • Patents
  • License agreements
  • Time-limited or paid access to the data
  • Commercial providers trying to lobby politics and restrict open data. This happened z. B. PubChem , a US database on chemical compounds.

See also


Web links

German speaking

English speaking

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b c Jörn von Lucke, Christian Geiger: Open Government Data (freely available data of the public sector) . Ed .: zeppelin university. Friedrichshafen December 3, 2010 ( [PDF]).
  2. a b The Open Definition. Open Knowledge Foundation, accessed February 18, 2017 .
  3. Marcus M. Dapp, Dian Balta, Walter Palmetshofer, Helmut Krcmar, Pencho Kuzev: Open Data the benefits. The economic potential for Germany . Ed .: Konrad Adenauer Foundation. Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung eV, Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-3-95721-202-3 .
  4. Jörn von Lucke: Innovation boost through open data, data portals and implementation competitions . In: Reinbert Schauer, Norbert Thom, Dennis Hilgers (eds.): Innovative administration. Innovation management as an instrument of administrative reform . Trauner, Johannes Kepler University Linz 2011, ISBN 978-3-85499-850-1 , p. 261-272 .
  5. What is open data? Konrad Adenauer Foundation, accessed on February 18, 2017 .
  6. ^ Keith G Jeffery: Open Data - The Time Has Come. Blog comment. In: petermr's blog. October 3, 2006, accessed on February 18, 2017 (English): “Although the term open data is rather new, the concept is rather old. The International Geophysical Year of 1957-8 caused the setting up of several world data centers and - more importantly - set standards for descriptive metadata to be used for data exchange and utilization. "
  7. a b c Harlan Yu, David G. Robinson: The New Ambiguity of 'Open Government' . ID 2012489. Social Science Research Network, Rochester, NY February 28, 2012, doi : 10.2139 / ssrn.2012489 .
  8. ^ National Research Council: On the Full and Open Exchange of Scientific Data . 1995, doi : 10.17226 / 18769 .
  9. AB 1624 (Bowen). May 18, 1993, accessed February 18, 2017 .
  10. Stefan Krempl: Bundestag passes half-baked open data law. In: heise online. Retrieved April 6, 2019 .
  11. ^ Science Commons
  13. Tina Klopp: Creating new knowledge with old data . Time online , April 16, 2010.
  14. Slide 13. Open Data of the City of Zurich. What's the point? November 27, 2014; Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  15. Slide 16. Open Data of the City of Zurich. What's the point? November 27, 2014; Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  16. Slide 17. Open Data of the City of Zurich. What's the point? November 27, 2014; Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  17. Avian flu researchers stop work on the supervirus ., January 21, 2012; Retrieved March 3, 2012.
  18. Open Source - Who is liable if it goes wrong ., October 11, 2004; Retrieved March 3, 2012.
  23. Coding Da Vinci. Retrieved March 24, 2020 .
  24. ^ First open data hackathon in Freiburg: Apps for quality of life . , March 9, 2015
  25. ^ DB Open Data Train Challenge .
  26. ^ ACS Challenging NIH's PubChem Database .; Retrieved March 3, 2012