Table of Contents
- What is Open Data?
- What Are Open Data Classifications?
- Free Open Source Data Collection
- Lists of Public Data Sources by Categories
- Who Can Benefit from Open Data and for What Use Cases?
- Final Thoughts on How to Get Open Data from Free Sources?
Data is the modern engine to every process, businesses depend on it especially. Most companies collect information about their customers, their brand, marketing campaigns, social media info, and much more. But this data is primarily internal, accumulated in the corporate databases, CRMs, ERP systems, and other sources. Analyzing this data helps to make more data-driven decisions, but much information lies outside the company.
It’s open data, which is generated every minute, and the scope of it grows exponentially. Consequently, the number of sources from which you can extract data increases at an overwhelming pace as well.
No wonder it’s hard to see the forest for the trees, there is too much information to comprehend.
What is Open Data?
Open data stems from external sources from all over the world. It varies ranging from government agencies’ datasets through financial institutions’ economic trend roundups to social media sentiment.
Being publicly available and not restricted by copyright, patents, or other controls, this data type can be freely accessed, used, modified, and shared for whatever purposes. Thus, it can be effectively used for predictive analysis and forecasting, unveiling consumer patterns and trends, new opportunities for innovation discovery, and much more. It leads to economic growth, greater technological innovations, and enhanced socio-economic well-being.
What Are Open Data Classifications?
As it’s clear from the above, there are certain typical attributes that open data is characterized with. It should be:
- Accessible – have the form which is easily accessed,
- Available – can be used freely by anyone,
- Reusable/Redistributive – allowed for republishing in other forms and formats,
- Interoperable – can be mixed with other data and datasets,
- Unrestricted – should not have restrictions on usage by any groups or purposes, allowed to be used for non-commercial as well as commercial purposes.
Free Open Source Data Collection
At present, you can get public data from hundreds or even thousands of online data sources, freely available to everyone who is connected to the internet. However, to extract reliable and trustworthy data you should choose globally authoritative and interesting sources while they are multifaceted.
The best places to get data are open sources that cover many niches. Scraping such resources, you can get variable Big Data datasets for free, use them or share, depending on the aims you have.
Still, the process involves a succession of steps:
- First, you should find reliable sources, being scrapable websites,
- Then you need to extract data from them,
- Format it,
- Clean it up,
- and lastly, visualize it for insights.
As it’s mentioned above, various sources cover variable data, so you should choose the ones to match your project and business needs at the current moment.
To simplify your search and choice for reliable information, we’ve prepared a list of authoritative data sources broken down into categories.
Free Government Data Sources
- Data.gov – The US Government portal opened last year to make all sorts of amazing government information available freely online. This comprehensive resource comprises science and research data in various spheres, from climate and manufacturing to crime. What is more, metadata is regularly updated for better clarity and transparency. Datasets can be availed in CSV, JSON, and XML formats.
- Data.gov.uk – similarly, to data.gov in the USA, this United Kingdom public website publishes data of all the central UK departments, public sector, and local authorities in all kinds of spheres: education, environment, government, society, health, justice, defense, and crime.
- UK Data Service – this site can be considered a compliment data.gov.uk that includes major surveys sponsored by the government, cross-national investigations, longitudinal studies on trends in social media, international relations, finance, politics, and more in the United Kingdom.
- U.S. Census Bureau is a useful USA government public data website covering the information on American population, geographic data, education, and more. It is sourced by federal, state, and local administrations, as well as commercial entities.
- European Union Open Data Portal – This is the important point of access to multifaceted data generated by EU institutions and bodies. With its almost 14,000 datasets available in variable formats, it spots light on European economic development, financial data, election results, statistics, health, legal acts, and data on crime, the environment, and scientific research.
- Open Data Network – The network allows data exploration on any topic from public safety through finance to housing and development. A user can look for the information across thousands of datasets from hundreds of open data catalogs. It becomes possible due to a robust open data search engine and advanced filters.
- UNICEF is the source where you can monitor the global situation of children and women. The datasets shared reveal the information on gender, education, social norms, disease outbreaks, and more worldwide. Additionally, data visualizations are available.
- The CIA World Factbook covers valuable details on history, economy, infrastructure, population, military issues, government data, and not only for about 270 countries and territories worldwide.
- Socrata is another interesting source for scraping government websites information with in-built visualization tools. Over 1200 government agencies adopted its data as a service already for data-driven governing and performance management.
- Canada Open Data launched as a pilot project, this source allows to explore multifaceted governmental, administrative, and geospatial datasets. It provides better accountability and more transparency, increases citizen engagement through open dialogue, driving innovation and economic opportunities.
Public Economic Data Sources
- Google Finance is a great source of real-time financial news, stock quotes, and charts, currency conversions, or tracked portfolios.
- Financial Times looking like an online newspaper this site provides a wide range of news, information concerning global markets, the Americas, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Africa, and services for the global business community.
- IMF Economic Data containing IMF datasets is an amazing source of data and insights on the worldwide financial stability, regional economics, global financial statistics, and economic outlook, exchange rates, fiscal monitoring, directions of trade, and much more.
- World Bank Open Data – This is one of the most complete economic data websites that is frequently updated. It provides education statistics and information on GDP rates, management of global funds, global energy consumption, logistics, and much more. Some datasets are supplemented with visualization tools.
- Global Financial Data allows a free public data sets subscription to access GFD’s complete data sheets, periodicals, books, and archives from over 60,000 companies for the last 300 years. Thus it allows researching and analyzing the major markets and economies of the world, and exploring all the twists and turns of the global economy.
- UN Comtrade Database is a free database that is curated by Comtrade Labs. It allows access, visualization, and even extraction of data from the detailed global trade datasets. It is a repository of international trade statistics accessible via API.
- U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis contains official macroeconomic and industry statistics of the United States, GDP reports, and gross domestic product various units separately. The Bureau also provides information about corporate profits, personal income, and government spending.
- U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission provides quarterly datasets since 2009, The datasets contain extracted details from exhibits, financial statements, and corporate reports filed with the Commission.
- National Bureau of Economic Research is a great source of macro data, industry, productivity, and trade information, post-housing bust credit conditions, as well as international finance, and more. NEBR facilitates qualitative and quantitative research in all these spheres.
- Financial Data Finder at OSU provides plentiful links to economic data services and anything related to finance. The service allows online checking of the Global Financial Data, World Development Indicators, World Bank Open Data, public data IMF and its Statistical Databases, and much more.
Free Sources for Business Data
- Yellowpages is considered one of the best websites for data about local businesses. With it, you can always find and contact handymen, plumbers, mechanics, dentists, lawyers and other specialists in your area or nearby.
- Yelp is a perfect source of business reviews, which amount to millions. Yelp’s open datasets help everyone interested get a profound understanding of sentiment not only toward businesses but also current market trends and patterns.
- OpenCorporates, being the largest global open database of companies and corporate data, the website contains information of more than 100 million businesses in multiple jurisdictions worldwide. The resource aims to make information on companies more widely available and usable for the public benefit.
- Craigslist classified as a US advertisement site with sections devoted to jobs, services, personals, housing, items wanted and for sale, resumes, and discussion forums it allows finding valuable details about lots of American businesses.
- Glassdoor reviews jobs and contains a wealth of open data that can be analyzed right away. A user can find here monthly salary reports, pay reports sorted out for a certain locale, gender pay analysis, and much more details.
- LinkedIn is a well-known social networking service that business and employment-oriented. With over 500 million members all over the world, it is accessible via a website and mobile applications.
- CertainTeed is a valuable site to everyone in Canada or the United States who is in search of contractors, builders, installers, or remodelers for a commercial or residential project.
- EU-Startups, the name speaks for itself, it’s a directory listing EU startups.
- Kansas Bar Association founded in 1882 as a voluntary association now possesses a directory for lawyers and dedicated legal professionals. It includes more than 7000 members, lawyers, judges, paralegals, and law students among them.
- Manta is a giant online directory delivering products and services, as well as educational opportunities. The resource attracts millions of unique monthly visitors looking for comprehensive databases for industry segments, geographic-specific listings, and individual businesses.
Free Data Sources in Academic and Educational Domain
- Google Scholar is one of the most useful educational tools. It’s a quick and free data finder of the necessary educational papers, peer-reviewed sources of data, and researches in various spheres and about variable issues. A wide array of materials can be found here: articles, books, abstracts, theses, white papers, court opinions, etc.
- UCLA a site of the university that makes certain datasets prepared for and used in its academic courses available for the public.
- Academic Torrents is the site that shares scientific papers datasets allowing their direct download. Thus, the users can either use the data right away or use the materials later.
- National Center for Education Statistics is a primary federal entity for gathering and analyzing information related to education. It provides publicly available datasets widely used by educational institutions to enhance students’ retention rates, understand learning habits, degree attainment, and much more.
- Government Data About Education reveals education materials, datasets, resources, and apps for usage in the classroom, as well as the details on paying for college procedures.
- Pew Research Center belongs to the list of the largest US open data sources. It contains raw data from fascinating researches into American life, such as demographic researches, public opinion polls, data-driven social science research, and content analysis aggregated through high-quality surveys. The survey information is typically released 2 years after reports are published
- Amazon Public Data Sets is a huge yet free big data repository that stores multiple public datasets in natural sciences: biology, chemistry, physiology, including the 1000 Human Genome Project, and economics. This site is an attempt to create the most comprehensive genetic information database as well as make NASA’s database of satellite imagery of Earth publicly available.
- Education Data by the World Bank is the source for comprehensive data and analysis in major educational topics, and also understanding of literacy rates and government expenditures.
- Education Data by UNICEF reveals information related to sustainable development, net school attendance rates, literacy and school completion rates, and much more.
Health and Scientific Data Public Websites
- World Health Organization site is one of the most comprehensive open data sources providing data on global disease outbreaks, mental illnesses’ information, statistics concerning nutrition and world hunger, mortality rates, health financing details, and much more in more than 150 countries.
- Food and Drug Administration operates as an educational library on everything from foodborne illness to dietary supplements and contaminants to them. Besides, the users can find here a compressed drugs database, which is updated daily.
- HealthData.gov contains over three thousand datasets with high-value information accessible to researchers, entrepreneurs, and policymakers. The healthcare information gathered for over 125 years includes epidemiology and population statistics as well as claim-level Medicare data.
- Broad Institute is the source of open data that combines health and scientific researches that focus on various cancer types.
- National Cancer Institute or NIH is a complement to the Broad Institute. Thanks to the advanced filters it allows hyper-targeted search for a variety of publicly available datasets related to cancer.
- Center for Disease Control is a web resource placing importance on chronic illnesses, birth defects, heart diseases, cancers, and more, providing a wide variety of open datasets on all these issues.
- NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre is an easy-to-use website, where more than 260 official and national statistical publications and datasets of the UK National Health Service can be found. National comparative data for secondary uses, based on the long-run Hospital Episode Statistics can help improve the overall quality and efficiency of healthcare in the UK and not only.
Crime and Drug Open Data Sites
- FBI Crime Statistics reveals crime reports and publications that outline trends and feature specific offenses for better crime threats understanding at the local as well as national level.
- Uniform Crime Reporting Program, being curated by the FBI, the program aggregates statistics on violent crime from more than 18 000 states, cities, counties, universities and colleges, tribes, and federal law enforcement agencies.
- Bureau of Justice Statistics is an open data USA source that accumulates information on everything related to the American system of justice from arrest-related deaths through a national survey of DNA crime labs and emergency room stats to annual firearm investigations.
- National Archive of Criminal Justice Data – is a comprehensive source of both publicly available and restricted access datasets on recidivism, terrorism, gang violence, and much more based on criminal justice archived data and criminology.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse site covers a variety of issues related to drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, such as drug usage, prescription opioid abuse in the USA, emergency room data, and prevention and treatment programs.
- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime contains data on drug production and trafficking, trend analysis, studies on homicide rates worldwide, organized crime statistics, corruption, financial crime datasets, and more. Frequently updated publications are based on global and regional data collection.
- Drug Data and Database by First Databank provides datasets aimed at inspiring change in the medication decision-making process based on the profound knowledge of the existing medication.
Free Real Estate Original Data Sources
- Castles agency established in 1981 is a successful, privately owned independent company that offers a comprehensive service of residential sales, surveys, valuations, and management.
- Realestate.com is a perfect resource for first-time property buyers. It offers easy-to-understand handy tools as well as expert assistance at every stage of the home-buying process.
Who Can Benefit from Open Data and for What Use Cases?
At present, open data is already a means to make governments accountable. It helps to fight crime and prevent fraud, to get individuals from A to B, to maintain people’s health and to save their lives in natural disasters, and much more.
What is more, businesses use publicly available data to create ground-breaking products and services, develop new business models, fill in the market gaps and gain a competitive edge, as well as identify new business opportunities and create benefits in various spheres – social, economic, environmental, etc.
The agencies that offer consultancy services, extensively use open data in their work as well. They often turn to geospatial, demographic, transport, and environmental datasets at the same time using many more types of data but to a lesser degree.
While the innovation may come from unlikely places, it’s difficult to predict where else you can use open data. With improved possibilities, innovations will increase. That’s why forward-thinking companies access publicly available data attempting to ask the right questions and to get the right answers.
Final Thoughts on How to Get Open Data from Free Sources?
The methods and approaches to data collection may be variable, and the choice depends on the specifics of your business and use case. As a rule, you can download open data in bulk, buy real-time open data APIs, feeds, and streams to download the most up-to-date information.
However, to be sure you get really relevant and up-to-date data in your business or niche, it’s better to hire experts in data scraping. It will help you get reliable data cleansed off the unnecessary mess with minimum effort on your part. With data delivery professionals, like DataOx you may be sure that your unique needs and data requirements will be met to the last detail. Schedule a free consultation with a DataOx expert to discuss details.