Data Commons Scotland: discovering ways to make Open Data work for the common good

Household waste recycling centre - image created by Peter Facey, reproduced under CCSA-2.0

As the Open Data Institute says in its Guide, What is ‘open data’ and why should we care?:

You can’t go 10 minutes without hearing about data these days. “Data blogs.” “Big data.” “Data protection.” “Data.” “Daahta.”

Data are described as the “new oil”, promising improvements in economic growth; transparency, accountability and governance; health; and more.  The Open Data movement aims to put data, and therefore the associated benefits, into the “commons” – that is, the common wealth of resources that belong to all of us.  Open Data  are data that’s available to everyone to access, use and share.
But although moves to make community, commercial, health, governance and scientific/social research data freely and publicly available hold out the possibility of improvements in many spheres, for many people, the number and range of people actually making use of Open Data remains limited. We believe this is at least in part because making data available is not enough to make it truly Open – data also need to be made useable.

Data Commons Scotland is a collaborative, interdisciplinary partnership, funded by the EPSRC, that is undertaking research and design work to try to find ways of addressing this problem.

We’re undertaking a case study around waste management and recycling data with an aim to better understanding the issues surrounding making data open in an effective way.