Letting genies out of bottles can be a risky business. In Aladdin's case the genie helped him to achieve his most coveted wishes. Other genies can however be more malevolent, turning wishes into nightmares. And so it is with releasing the data genie. Opening up your data to the wider world can similarly fulfil wishes, or lead to censure & misery.
One of our data industry's current hot topics is Open Data, a subject which I've discussed in previous blogs. Open Data is a self-explanatory concept, unlike many in our profession. It's data released by organisations which others are free to use, usually at no or very minimal cost. As you might expect, national governments and their institutions are at the forefront of this, given the public demand for transparency in public affairs. The UK government, for example, has made over 17,000 data sets available via its web sites. 64 countries globally are doing the same, including the US where one estimate claims there are over one million accessible data sets, provided by federal and state governments, academia and other public spirited bodies. These data sets include a potential goldmine, covering such diverse topics as meteorology, environmental impacts, demographics, health, education, transport and so on.