Open data worldwide: The road is open – the challenge is ahead

We often refer to open access and open data through our projects, events and other activities. For example, AK-related projects like agINFRA and SemaGrow are working on open and linked agricultural data of various types and formats, a task that has proven to be hard but not impossible, even at large scales (and this is where SemaGrow shines!). Only during the last months, a high number of Conferences focusing on open access, open and linked data took place both in Greece in the context of the Greek Presidency of the Council of the European Union (like the European Data Forum 2014, SEMIC 2014ICRI 2014 and of course the joint OpenAIRE/COAR Conference) as well as at global level, such as the Open Repositories 2014 Conference in Helsinki, Finland and the SPARC 2014 Conference at Kansas City, USA, just to name a few.

However, it is important to notice that the status of open data is not the same in different countries all over the world and there are still countries lagging behind in opening up their data and publishing them in both human- and machine-readable formats. There is still much effort to be put in achieving high levels of open data, especially considering the 5-star scale initially conceived by Tim Berners-Lee some years ago.


The Open Data 5-star scale: More info at


We recently came across a related video that draw our attention; it was produced by LA NACION Data Argentina and in 3 minutes it manages to describe the issue identified in the country, where there was no plan for opening up public data and on top of that, there was only a small part available in digital format. The video shows how a small team of Open Data enthusiasts managed to raise the interest for opening up public data, highlighting the issues and providing solutions. This led to the growth of the team, the raise of awareness of the public, even outside the country, and the consequential increase of the amount of public data that become available as open data during the last period.



The initiative seems to be really well-though and the current team, currently consisting of (Data) Journalists, Developers, Analysts and designers (among others) and the positive results so far show that “The road is open – the challenge is ahead“, as the team mentions by the end of the video.

Another interesting resource is a blog post in the Data Pub blog titled “Closed Data…Excuses, Excuses“, which provides an alternative approach for opening up data; it lists a number of excuses usually provided by people who are not interested in opening up their data (or they are just too lazy to do so!). The author of the blog post (Carly Strasser, Data Curation Specialist at the California Digital Library and UC3 Data Curation Project Manager) uses a nice set of references (listed at the first part of her blog post) and provides a detailed response to each excuse which we found to be really helpful. It surely worth the time to go through the post and check out some of the responses that you could provide to open data-ignorant people when engaged in related discussions; or even reuse the material in your open data related presentation. I am sure that you will make a point with that! You should also check out Carly’s presentations at Slideshare; they provide a wealth of information, tips, tools and workflows related to data management and open data 😉

But how are these related to a small company like Agro-Know? There are several examples but I will just present the latest one; Giannis Stoitsis, COO of Agro-Know, participated in the WiRE 2014 Conference and explained how enterprises can make use of open data for decision-making and development of products/services, among others. Agro-Know falls into the latter category, using open educational and scientific data to build services for its customers. AK is mainly focused on helping the organizations in the Agricultural domain to both open their data and to build meaningful services to disseminate their data. This sounds like a fine example of an SME which has managed to build innovative services and solutions based on open access data, that would have remained unused in any other case… 🙂


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