Open data in Italy: what, where, why?
Starting a conversation about the Open Data in Italy, the technologies associated with them, and the idea behind them, it is first of all necessary to step aside, look around and understand what is the Open Data.
Some of you may already be familiar with this topic, as recently Open Data is very often the subject of discussion on the Internet. In addition, we have already faced them before, without knowing it.
Of course, in this case, we are talking about open source software: such software is distributed free of charge, and everyone can modify the code to improve it, and then make these modifications available to other users.
Open source is nothing more than the using of the Open Data Concept for information technology.
Therefore, when we are talking about Open Data, we mean the data that is available to any user, suitable for any use, modification, and usage in derived products and services.
In fact, this term has a real definition that distinguishes three main aspects: freedom, re-use, and availability.
Summarizing, “Open data” should be easily accessible, without costs or in proportion to the cost of the distribution (for example, the cost of printing a book), the data should not have restrictions on use (can be used anytime and anywhere) and should be accessible to anybody in the world. This means that if there is any restriction on one of the three aspects, then such data cannot be considered open.
Since we have found out what the subject of our article is, let’s look together at other big questions, we will try to get answers for:
- Why is it important that this concept remains relevant and used more in real life?
- Where can I find Open Data in Italy?
The Importance of Open Data for Evolution
The famous comedian Beppe Grillo in one of his past speeches spoke about how the right to copyright changed the evolutionary process and the development of the human intellect and its creations.
Let’s ignore the discussions about politics and parties (since this is not entirely appropriate for the topic of this article) and turn to Beppe Grillo’s statement in which he said that the progress of our technology and our knowledge was due to factors of reuse and change.
When a scientist found something or invented something, there was no law that would give him ownership of this thing. Of course, his merit and contribution were recognized, but the opportunity that we had to accept his invention and adapt it in accordance with our thinking, improve it, make it better or easier, change it – that’s what allowed us to get most from the technologies that we use today.
The invention is very rare when it takes place single-moment. Usually, this is an evolutionary process that allows you to get the best result.
Of course, this is still possible today, but often, in order to change a pre-existing invention and ask to accept this change, an endless bureaucratic and legal process is needed.
This clearly does not contribute to the goal that we set out above: the continuous growth and evolution of man, his technologies, and knowledge.
That is why Open Data, which instead opens the door for a collective participation of scientists, is necessary, especially in specific sectors of our culture. After all, the famous Italian proverb says: “Due teste sono meglio di una”, which means “Two heads are better than one”
Although we now understand how Open Data is an advantage for science, how can this be an advantage for business and the economy?
Let’s say we would like to open a hotel. The prices and the services offered by this hotel are usually based only on the experience of the owner and on the data collected by him since the beginning of the business activity. For this reason, we will see results with an ascending path: from a small experience and income to a large one.
But the experience of a person, no matter how deep it is, is still limited in comparison with the collective experience. By accessing survey data in your industry, you could implement strategies and provide the services that customers are looking for.
Of course, this is just a general example, but information is power, and it’s time to take advantage of it.
- Are open data available in Italy? If so, where?
Open data in Italy: where to find them?
Fortunately for us, in Italy, there are open data that are provided by individuals and organizations, and by regions and the government. Of course, the number is still limited, and for this reason, it is necessary to try to promote and popularize it with greater efforts.
With regard to the regional contribution to this subject, almost every region of Italy has a portal dedicated to public data, which records data separated by topic and date of publication.
To give an example, there is a Tuscany Portal, where you can get access to the database. If you already know what information you need, you can fill out the form and get the information you need. You can ask for help in a group if you can not find the information, or you can share your knowledge and experience with others and a sense of community to be further increased.
In addition, speaking of the community, we have to mention social networks, especially Twitter, where you can search for the hashtag #opendata (pre-set language in Italian). There we will find real-time updates for this area.
The Italian government itself offers a dedicated portal, whose data is divided into topics from agriculture to science and technology. Finally, there are several specialized sites, one of which is DataOpen, which allows you to freely share important information.
Co-founder of cloud based web scraping and data extraction platform Diggernaut