We put a lot of focus on persuading organisations to release their data, but just because it gets released does not necessarily mean it is usable, regularly updated, accurate, or reliable.
If you are carrying out research using open data, you need to know its provenance: if you are building an app or other product based on open data, you need to know the data is accurate and sustainable – that it will still be there in a couple of years’ time – because it’s a vital part of your product. On the other hand, if you are publishing data you need to know you are doing so in a way that helps people get the best out of it.
The solution to this problem is the Open Data Certificate. A certificate is a file released along with the data that contains metadata – data about the data – that describes the dataset in a way that answers these questions. It’s a framework to help people publish data more effectively. The certificate might describe how often it is updated, how good the data quality is, who collected it, what the data represents, or how, when, where and why it was collected. Without a certificate there’s no guarantee that the data set won’t disappear if there’s a change of personnel or policy at the publisher, or that there aren’t any errors. Datasets without certificates don’t add as much value as they do with them.
For more on open data Certificates, watch the video above by the folks at ODI HQ. You can also try creating your own certificate for free at the ODI HQ site.
We are available to help organisations get started with Open Data Certificates. We can help you understand what a certificate does and how to approach it, create your first certificates, and we can also check your first few certificates for accuracy. Contact us for more details of any of these services.