Understanding the open data movement and its future on the web

9th July 2018
The open data movement
The open data movement
The open data movement

Since the beginning of the 21st century, there has been a huge drive towards the collection and utilisation of online data. Dr Neil Fraser from James Cook University’s College of Science and Engineering has noted in a recent podcast how quickly data has become “fundamental to the way we navigate our lives”.

While data seems an everyday part of life now and has recently become extremely prominent in the news; just ten years ago, the data economy was merely a glimmer on the horizon.

However, a milestone in data came in late 2016 when the mobile internet overtook the fixed internet in use globally. All these connected internet devices are set to continue expanding to 50 billion by 2020, which is one factor driving the data science revolution.

Dr Neil Fraser, a veteran from the mobile industry, says that this access shifts towards mobile also brought about new ways of collecting and connecting data.

A surge in data growth

The growth of data markets can in part be attributed to the US government embracing the idea of open data under the Obama administration and the UK government publishing a large amount of data, both to ensure transparency.

As data usage and publication increases, there is a requirement for measuring what makes good, accessible data sets. Back before it was even necessary, Tim Berners-Lee - often labelled the founder of the Internet - assigned a ‘five-star’ system for data, which involves the following:

  • It must be made available
  • It must be machine-readable
  • It must be in an open standard
  • It must be connected or ‘linked’
  • It should be easily understood or digested by a variety of users.

Since then, the data movement has exploded, becoming more interlinked and increasingly complex.

Creation of data markets

As we become more aware of the opportunities for data to be repurposed and used for other means, we’ve seen a growth of interlinked data and the emergence of linked open data markets. Australia has made significant steps towards opening up their data to the public, although there is still much to be done.

Data sets can now be purchased and utilised for a variety of means. Corporate data, in particular, has become increasingly commercialised, with businesses popping up everywhere offering to collect, disseminate and store a vast array of information.

Data for good or not-so good?

This has not been without its backlash. Since the recent Facebook furore, consumers have become particularly concerned about who is using their data, and for what purpose. While this type of data is separate from the types of open data being made public, it contributes to the ongoing discussion about which data aids transparency, and which begins to violate privacy.

According to Fraser, the open data movement is re-organising the way the web works. This will promise significant changes, most of them positive. It is up to us to embrace the open data movement and ensure it continues in a way that best works for us.

Dive into your data-future

If data drives your life, consider a new direction with James Cook University’s 100% online Master of Data Science. Our team of lecturers aims to ensure you’re fully up to date with emerging trends and equipped for a career in the ever-expanding technology sector. Learn more by enquiring with our Student Enrolment team on 1300 535 919.

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