New coalition aims to make open data even more open

Fri, 2015-02-20 06:00 -- Kevin Ebi

The term open data refers to data that’s free for people to view and analyze on their own, but the process itself for making that data available hasn’t necessarily been open. A new coalition backed by some industry giants aims to change that.

As its name suggests, the new Open Data Platform is an association that pledges to open up the backend of open data projects. More than a dozen companies have joined the association so far, including IBM and GE, both of whom are Council Lead Partners.

Creating an open platform
Association members will use the same basic platform for their open data solutions. All will make use of core open-source Apache projects, in particular Apache Hadoop, which is a set of algorithms for distributed storage and processing of very large datasets, and Apache Ambari, which monitors and manages the Hadoop clusters.

This provides a wide range of benefits for cities undertaking open data projects. First, by concentrating the member’s efforts on one set technologies, all members will be using a well-tested, certified reference core that’s ready for enterprise use.

Perhaps an even bigger benefit, however, is that it could help streamline open data deployment efforts. By promoting and using a set of standard open source technologies, the products from all the members will be much more compatible with each other, similar to the way that a city’s information technology is easier to manage if all departments are running the same systems.

Further, all of the offerings from member companies could be implemented in a much more consistent manner. That makes it easier for cities to deploy open data technologies in less time and with significantly less hassle.

Sparking new open data technologies
This new initiative could also spark new innovations in opening data. By working together on a common core, the member companies are significantly reducing the duplicated efforts that they have been making individually. In freeing those development resources, they are able to shift development from maintaining the open data backbone to delivering advances in their own unique offerings.

Members believe that by pooling their resources on a common core, they can inspire a new open data renaissance that attracts investment and ideas from other companies. And when that happens, cities and their citizens will benefit even further.

Get started on your open data project

The Council's Smart Cities Open Data Guide is a primer loaded with tools, resources and advice for creating a data-driven city. It is available for at no cost to members of the Smart Cities Council. (If you haven't joined, all it takes is a quick, free, one-time registration.)  Download your free copy of the Smart Cities Open Data Guide now.