Open Data Consultancy Final Report

This report presents the outcomes of the Open Data Consultancy study that Swirrl IT Limited was commissioned to carry out for the Scottish Government from September to November 2013.

‘Open Data’ is data that is accessible to anyone (usually via the internet), in a machine readable form, free of restriction on use. Adoption of this approach to information sharing is growing in the public sector, with anticipated benefits for transparency, efficiency of government and economic growth.

Glossary and abbreviations

5-star open data Open data that achieves the highest rating on the 5 star scale proposed by Sir Tim Berners Lee for open government data.
API Application Programming Interface. A set of specifications implemented by software, which allows access to data by external computer programs.
Concept scheme A maintained list of concept descriptions, typically organised into a hierarchy. Often used to define the possible values of a dimension of statistical data.
CSV Comma Separated Values. A commonly used file format for tabular data.
Data Cube A data structure often encountered in statistical data, characterised by a collection of observations sharing a common set of dimensions, measures and attributes. A data table is a two-dimensional data cube.
GIS Geographical Information Systems: software packages used for management and analysis of geographical data.
HTTP Hypertext Transfer Protocol. The foundational standard for data communication on the web.
JSON JavaScript Object Notation. A widely used text-based data format, defined by an open standard. Originally developed as part of the JavaScript language, but now popular for web-based software development in a variety of programming languages.
Linked data A method for publishing structured data, building on standard web technologies and designed to promote interlinking and interconnecting different data sources.
Linked open data The linked data method applied to publishing of open data.
Ontology A systematic description of an RDF data model, comprising a vocabulary of properties and classes, their definitions and how they are inter-related.
Open data Data that is accessible (usually via the internet), in a machine readable form, free of restriction on use.
Open data approach The set of processes and technologies associated with the creation and use of open data.
RDF Resource Description Framework. A data model and associated data syntaxes for representing data as a series of statements about resources. It is the standard format used in linked data. It is defined by a series of W3C specifications.
REST Representational State Transfer: an architectural style for software designed to work in a distributed web-based environment.
SAS A company that produces software for analysis of statistical data. Also used to refer to their statistical analysis product that is widely used in Scottish Government Analytical Services divisions.
SIMD Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation
SPARQL SPARQL is a query language for RDF databases. It is defined by a W3C specification.
SPSS A software package for statistical analysis, used in the Scottish Government Analytical Services divisions.
SQL Server A relational database system produced by Microsoft and widely used in the Scottish Government.
Triple store A database designed for storing data in RDF format. RDF represents data by a series of 'triples', each consisting of a subject, a property and an object.
URI Uniform Resource Identifier. A string of characters following a standard syntax used to give a name to a web resource or real world entity.
W3C The World Wide Web Consortium: an international community that sets the architecture and standards used on the web.
XML Extensible Markup Language. A widely used open standard data format.


Email: Sara Grainger

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