Components Supporting the Open Data Exploitation
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Open Data Node – who it is intended for

Open Data Node can be deployed and used many times, by many kinds of users, for many purposes:

ODN scheme: hierarchies and actors

Open Data Node can help with needs specific to each particular user:

  • government organizations, municipalities, etc. want to publish majority of their information as Open Data
  • other government bodies need to work with some data published by other government bodies
  • non-profits and application developers want to run specific tasks using copies of official data, for example analytic and visualization applications, data integration, etc.

Based on that, we differentiate various kinds of users into following categories, to help us with definition of use-cases and particular features for each of those:

  • publisher of Open Data (typically public body)
  • user of Open Data (citizen, data analyst, etc.)
  • aggregator of Open Data (public body, NGO, SME, etc.)
  • application developer using Open Data (SME, NGO, etc., public body too)

Publisher of Open Data

ODN scheme: hierarchies and actors - tight integration

Publishers of Open Data (typically public body) are the principal sources of data, i.e. those who “create” it. They can use ODN:

  • as integration tool for extracting data from internal systems
  • for automated and repeatable data harvesting: extraction and processing (conversion, cleansing, anonymization, etc.) of data, both:
    • initial harvesting of whole datasets (first import)
    • periodical harvesting of incremental updates
  • for publishing of data in open and machine-readable formats to the general public and businesses including automated efficient distribution of updated data and metadata (dataset replication)
    • integration with data catalogues (like CKAN) for automated publication and updating of dataset medatada
  • as a performance and security insulation of internal systems, publishing open data without compromising integrity of internal systems
  • for cataloguing of internal data sources

Publishers are using ODN directly, i.e. have it installed and maintained within their infrastructure, employing wide variety of options to achieve that (ranging from using it for free with support provided by own internal IT staff to purchasing a commercial support from companies with necessary know-how and resources).

Aggregator of Open Data

ODN scheme: hierarchies and actors - loose integration

Aggregators of Open Data (public body, NGO, SME, etc.) are a special case of data publishers: they create “new data” by combining data from others. Aggregators are both publishers and users at the same time, so they use ODN for same functions as mentioned above. But there are also other ODN specific functions they use:

  • efficient dataset replication, either between two ODN instances or between ODN and some other kind of data source
  • automated and repeatable data integration and linking

Application developer using Open Data

ODN scheme: hierarchies and actors - no integration

Application developers (SME, NGO, etc., public body too) can use one or more datasets (some Open, some not) in their applications. The main point in this case is to mix those various sources into one: one database or one triplestore, which is under their control and which servers as base for efficient functioning of their application.

Application developers are special kind of data aggregators: they do aggregate the data, but at the end they do not provide data, they provide services instead. Thus, application developers can utilize ODN in a similar way as aggregators. But in this context, what application developer can gain most from using ODN is independence – by employing ODN on their own servers:

  • better performance and higher availability can be achieved, compared to what the publishers of original (Open) data can provide
  • data can be adapted to the needs of particular application, thus allowing more efficient operations

Imagine loosing money or customers just because a server operated by somebody else (public body, etc.) is down or is unable to handle properly all the requests an application is making.

Note: We’ve already described one concrete example of this use-case, see post Building an application on Open Data with Spinque.

User of Open Data

Users (or consumers) of Open Data (citizen, data analyst, etc.) will in most cases use ODN indirectly: ODN will be hosted and maintained by somebody else (those other kinds of ODN users mentioned above) but those instances will provide consumers with following public services:

  • direct access to Open Data, either by download of data dumps – batch access – or by calling API – see post Understanding Data Accessibility
  • indirect use of Open Data, for example via 3rd party data catalog or application, which is fetching data from ODN instance

So in other words, consumers will be using data from ODN instance, usually not noticing that it is Open Data Node providing utilized “behind the scenes”.

Peter HPeter Hanečákanečák is a Senior Researcher and a team leader from the EEA Company.  At the same time he is the Open Data enthusiast.

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