Skip to content

What is open data?

What is open data all about? Find out what defines open data and open government data.

Learning outcomes

  • Understand the basic elements required to make open data, open.
  • List how the New Zealand Government defines open data.
  • Access further resources to lern about open data.

Open data is data anyone can use and share. It has an open licence, is openly accessible and is both human-readable and machine-readable.

You’re probably already using open data every day – for example:

  • geospatial information (getting from A to B)
  • weather data (deciding how to dress for the day)
  • Census data (making business decisions).

Open data drives innovation. It helps to build new business and encourages more strategic investment – creating new jobs, new industries and stronger economies. It can also lead to positive social and cultural outcomes, and can increase transparency and democratic participation.

Read some case studies about innovative reuses of open data.

Watch The Potential of Open Data video


Open government data

  1. Does not include private information about individuals (it is non-personal, unclassified and non-confidential).
  2. Is of high value, and contributes to economic, social, cultural or environmental growth.
  3. Provides transparency and illustrates the government's performance.
  4. Contributes to greater government efficiency through improved information sharing.
  5. Is collected, commissioned or created by a government agency in carrying out its everyday responsibilities.
  6. Is publicly funded.
  7. Can be freely used, reused and redistributed by other agencies, and the public.
  8. Has an open licence for reuse (Creative Commons using NZGOAL).

Releasing open data in New Zealand

Open data in New Zealand is released under the New Zealand Data and Information Management Principles, which state it should be:

  1. open
  2. protected
  3. readily available
  4. trusted and authoritative
  5. well-managed
  6. reasonably priced (preferably free)
  7. reusable.

Resources to learn more 

Open Data Institute's e-Learning programme

New to open data? Explore these 13 short interactive e-learning modules from the Open Data Institute, designed to help you discover what open data is and how it is changing people's lives.

Open Data Handbook

Once you understand the basics, make use of the Open Data Handbook by the Open Knowledge Foundation. This handbook discusses the legal, social and technical aspects of open data. It can be used by anyone, but is especially designed for those seeking to open up data.