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Public Sector Information and Open Government Data: what’s the difference

“Public sector information” and “open government data” may at first sight appear as synonyms and thus refer to the same thing. After all, the words “public” and “government” suggest the same origin. This is also the case for the terms "information" and "data".

However, there is a magic word, "open", which makes a big difference. But let's go back a little and see what is the universally recognised definition of "public sector information".

Public Sector Information (PSI) is the wide range of information that the public sector collects, produces, reproduces, publishes and disseminates in many areas of activity while accomplishing their institutional task. In some cases , there are also private sector suppliers of data and information that can be considered substitutes for public sector information.

There is no evidence to the term “open” in the definition of the public sector information.

On the other side, “open government data” is defined as material that is:

  • Produced or commissioned by government or government controlled entities.
  • “Open” as defined by this site’s Open Definition– in essence material (data) is open if it can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone

In view of the above it is obvious that “open government data” are a subset of the “public sector information”; in particular they are the “open” portion of the “public sector information”.

An image is worth a thousand words, so if we draw the two definitions on a Venn diagram the difference looks evident.

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