Linking open data

We’re happy to be sponsoring the first Open Data Camp UK and we’re looking forward to hearing, and seeing, what people are doing with Open Data. To us, as data publishers, the best thing about opening up data is the freedom it gives you to create something useful.

But if you link your open data the possibilities really open up. So, in that spirit, this post is about what publishing Linked Open Data really means and some of the practical advantages it has.

Linked Data is:

“a method of publishing structured data [on the web] so that it can be interlinked and become more useful.”

linked data switchWith Linked Data, each data point (i.e thing or fact) has its very own URL on the Web. This is unique and because it’s readily available on the internet, people can look it up easily. And Linked Open Data can also contain links to other facts, so you can discover more, related data.

LOD_Cloud_Diagram_as_of_September_2011
The linked data “cloud”

But Linked Data also rocks if you want to make something with the data. This is because when you look up the linked data page, all the metadata about it is embedded in: so there are no ambiguous column names to slow you down.

And if data is published as linked, as well as being published on a web site, it means that it comes with APIs, including a SPARQL endpoint – so developers can query the data in a variety of formats and use the data in their own programs.

But it’s not just for the techies – if you’re not technical, linking up your open data has other advantages.

  • It makes it easier to work with open data across organisations and departments because it’s not locked into silos: anyone can access it, making it truly open.
  • Linking open data with other data sources and having specific names for things saves time and effort when problem solving. Take a look at Steve Peters’ post on Joining The Dots across departments.
  • It’s low cost and sustainable – you convert the data once and reuse it – again and again. As part of our PublishMyData service, you can update your data yourself.
  • By linking your open data, it makes it easier to create apps and visualisations which are a friendly, quick way in to the data.
Swirrl's event space at Manchester's Museum of Science and Technology
Swirrl’s event space at Manchester’s Museum of Science and Technology

And on 21st April 2015 we’ll be sponsoring an event of our own: Local Open Data:Reaping the Benefits.

This is a one day event at Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry. Its aim is to bring together people working with, or interested in, data at a local level.

You can check out our awesome speakers here, or register your interest.

 

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Photo credit

The linked data cloud features in the Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linked_data and is attributed to Anja Jentzsch