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Open Data

Open Data

Open Data is data that can be used and shared by anyone, for any purpose, without restriction and for free.  Open Data is not commercially sensitive and contains no personal information which could be used to identify individuals.  Finally, for published data to be considered “open” it should be available online, in a machine-readable format and easily discoverable through the use of relevant metadata.

Legislation important to the definition and impetus to publish Open Data includes:

The scope of Open Data publication does not need to be limited by these minimum requirements and the Scottish Government  encourages taking a proactive approach to the publication of Open Data in recognition of the potential to:                                   

  • Increase transparency

  • Increase civic engagement

  • Improve public services

  • Boost innovation and economic growth

In order to achieve this potential the Scottish Government aims to encourage all Scottish public bodies to publish Open Data to a three star standard by 2017.  As part of the INSPIRE directive some Spatial Data is being published via the Scottish Spatial Data Infrastructure Discovery Metadata Service.  The Scottish Government has  made the following resources available:

Open Data Strategy

The Open Data Strategy was published in February 2015.  It sets out the Scottish Government’s ambition for making data open and available for others to use and reuse and also affirms the adoption of the G8 Open Data Principles: Open Data by Default; Quality and Quantity; Useable by All; Releasing Data for Improved Governance and Releasing Data for Innovation.

Details on aspects of how the strategy was developed are available here

Open Data Resource Pack

The Open Data Resource Pack was published in August 2015.

The resource pack is pitched to guide public bodies in the various aspects involved in publishing open data including: an overview of the legislation pertinent to open data; publication plan template; metadata standards and best practice; licencing and case studies that show the reasons for publishing open data.

Since the publication of the Open Data Resource pack various public bodies have created their own Open Data Publication Plans.  The resource pack is a living document and will be reviewed from time to time in a collaborative way.

Open Data Training

An Open Data Training Pilot has been procured by the Scottish Government and runs until September 2016. Delivered by Urban Tide, any Scottish public body can take advantage of the training which is delivered in two formats in various venues across the country:

  • One day workshops which provide an introduction to Open Data and explores the benefits of publishing open data to organisations.

  • Two day workshops which include the curriculum involved in the one day workshop, plus, materials designed to help organisations implement Open Data publishing principles in practice.

Places are limited to 3 per organisation and can be booked on Eventbrite.                                

Knowledge Hub – Digital Public Services: Open Data Group

The Open Data Network on Knowledge Hub has been created as a space for those involved in open data publication to discuss ideas and problems with a group other practitioners.  The group contains a forum, library and blog and will be used as a “sounding board” for further reviews of the Open Data Resource Pack.  Practitioners and interested parties are free to apply to join the group as well as attendees to the Open Data Training events where supplementary information may be found.

To join sign up for Knowledge Hub and apply within.

Open Data Site – increasing access to Official Statistics

statistics.gov.scot is a new site for publishing the data behind our official statistics in Scotland. You can access data by theme, organisation or geography.  You can also search for datasets, places or enter your postcode to find data about your local area. The data can be viewed as tables, maps and charts or downloaded in various formats. Please note that we are no longer maintaining the Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics (SNS) site.

Contact: Gregor Boyd 0131 2440442 Gregor.Boyd@Gov.Scot


If you have any questions about the contents of this webpage please contact opendatapolicy@gov.scot