Open Data FAQ

Liza Massey, Chief Information Officer, Information Services and Technology

Why is Marin County putting its data online?

Leading public sector innovators are leveraging cloud, platform and social technologies to deliver better citizen access to information, modernize online service delivery, and improve internal efficiencies. The goal is to transform data assets into productive information resources that people can easily access, share, and reuse. By sharing our data in an open and transparent means, we empower our citizens, ourselves and our customers to access information anywhere, anytime.

What have other cities, counties, and states done with open data?

mples of open data in other cities include Chicago (, San Francisco (, Austin (, and many others. (Reference:

What is "open data"?

Open data is the process of making data that belongs to the public broadly accessible and usable by humans and machines, free of any constraints. To summarize the most important aspects of open data are:

  • Availability and Access: the data must be available as a whole and at no more than a reasonable reproduction cost, preferably by downloading over the internet. The data must also be available in a convenient and modifiable form.
  • Reuse and Redistribution: the data must be provided under terms that permit reuse and redistribution including the intermixing with other datasets.
  • Universal Participation: everyone must be able to use, reuse, and redistribute the data—free of restrictions.

Why are governments implementing open data?

Open data, especially open government data, is a tremendous resource that is as yet largely untapped. Many individuals and organizations collect a broad range of different types of data in order to perform their tasks. Government is particularly significant in this respect, both because of the quantity and centrality of the data it collects, but also because most of that government data is public data by law, and therefore could be made open and made available for others to use.

Who benefits from open data?

While there are numerous instances of the ways in which open data is already creating both social and economic value, we don't yet know what new things will become possible. New combinations of data can create new knowledge and insights, which can lead to whole new fields of application that will benefit both the citizen as well as government. (Reference:

Additional Example of Open Data FAQ: