Data is the driving force behind the operations of countless businesses. Even if you own a local business, you’ll probably use data on a daily basis. While there are many different types of data, though, most data records can be classified as either open or closed. Some businesses only use open data. Other businesses use closed data or a combination of both open and closed data. What’s the difference between open and closed data exactly?

What Is Open Data?

Open data consists of digital records that are available for everyone to see, access and use without any restrictions. Research data and consumer studies, for instance, are often available in an open data format. Once published, they are available for everyone to see and use. Other businesses, in fact, can use the published open data in their own operations, regardless of whether they created or harvested it. Open data has an unrestricted format that provides full access and usage rights to everyone.

What Is Closed Data?

Closed data, on the other hand, consists of digital records restricted to one or more users. For commercial applications, it’s far more common than open data. Many businesses, in fact, only use closed data; they don’t create or harvest any open data. Regardless, closed data consists of digital records that are only available to authorized users.

Differences Between Open and Closed Data

Open and closed data differ in their accessibility. All users can access open data, whereas only select and authorized users can access closed data. Sensitive and important records are generally closed data. If you don’t want other users to see them, you’ll probably restrict their access to only your business’s employees. Therefore, these records are considered closed data.

The defining factor of open data is its unrestricted format. There are no restrictions on open data. To achieve this unrestricted format, open data is often distributed under an open-source license. Open-source licenses are those that grant anyone the right to use a data set or file. Closed data, conversely, is only accessible to authorized users.

In Conclusion

Data can be classified as open or closed depending on its level of accessibility. Open data lives up to its namesake by featuring an unrestricted format that’s available to all users. Closed data is essentially the opposite: It consists of data records that are only available to authorized users. Hopefully, this gives you a better idea of open and closed data and how they differ.

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