I saw that Glasgow (I live there) is boasting about their open data (http://open.glasgow.gov.uk/). Yet I saw a tweet from an OpenStreet Map/Open data enthusiast:

"It seems that, in spite of the hype, @openglasgow open data is not open. So Open Glasgow == closed data just called open. #datatrap"

As someone who is just trying to get their head around open data can anyone explain this comment?

  • 1
    best would be to get an explanation of the original poster.
    – Ulrich
    Mar 8, 2014 at 14:27
  • @Ulrich Thank you, however I am not on twitter or facebook. I appreciate the feedback, and your answer Mar 8, 2014 at 21:33

1 Answer 1


All open data are good, but some are better.

In a colloquial way: open means that everyone can use it, for any purpose. The idea is that you have as few technical, financial and legal barriers as possible.

Quite a popular definition is the one from the OKF:

“A piece of data or content is open if anyone is free to use, reuse, and redistribute it — subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and/or share-alike.”

I believe this becomes more clear when we enter the "grey areas":

  • Open usually means free. However, sometimes it may include a nominal fee when the publication of data is costly.
  • Open usually avoids a non-commercial licence. Excluding commercial activities brings the uncertainty of the exact definition of "non-commercial" and its potential legal ramifications.
  • Twitter is also somewhere in between. Some people argue it's "open" (e.g J. Gurin in Open Data Now) perhaps because of its public nature. However, there are serious restrictions of who and how you can use Twitter data.


On their site they write

Glasgow City Council data is now open by default, freely and easily accessible to all.

Unfortunately, the link to "open by default" goes nowhere at the moment. The licence would explain what you can and cannot do with it. I would assume (and I may be wrong) that the Open Government Licence applies. It is relatively generous and easy to read.

  • 1
    I would tend to agree that it is likely licensed under the UK Open Government License : "Open Glasgow itself is part of a larger project: “Future Cities”. Glasgow received a grant from the UK Government's Technology Strategy Board to demonstrate how combining expertise with cutting-edge technology can enhance day-to-day life in the city. " Mar 8, 2014 at 20:06

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