Open Knowledge

About the Global Open Data Index

What is the Global Open Data Index?

The Global Open Data Index is a project that measures and benchmarks the openness of data around the world, and then presents this information in a way that is easy to understand and use.

Each year the open data community and Open Knowledge produces an annual ranking of countries, peer reviewed by our network of local open data experts.

We focus on ten key data sets including those essential for transparency and accountability (such as election results and government spending data), and those vital for providing critical services to citizens (such as maps and transport timetables).

  • Transport timetables
  • Government budget
  • Government spending
  • Election results
  • Company register
  • National map
  • National statistics
  • Legislation
  • Postcodes/zipcodes
  • Emissions of pollutants

Launched in 2013, the first edition of the Index reviewed the state of open government data in 70 countries, with over 1,300 submissions and over 60 volunteer country editors analysing over 700 government data sets.

In 2014 we are expanding to 97 countries with a focus on countries of the Global South.

How is the Global Open Data Index different from other surveys and trackers?

Each year, governments are making more data available in an open format. The Global Open Data Index tracks whether this data is actually released in a way that is accessible to citizens, media and civil society and is unique in crowd-sourcing its survey of open data releases around the world.

Crowd-sourcing this data provides a tool for communities around the world to learn more about the open data available by country, and ensures that the results reflect the experience of civil society in finding open information, rather than government claims. It also ensures that those who actually collect the information that builds the Index are the very people who use the data and are in a strong position to advocate for more and higher quality open data.

The Global Open Data Index is also uniquely easy to read - anyone can read and understand the results. The Global Open Data Index is not only a benchmarking tool, it also plays a powerful role in building the open government data community around the world. If, for example, the government of a country does publish a dataset, but this is not clear to the public and cannot be found through a simple search, then the data can easily be overlooked. Governments and open data practitioners can review the Index results to see how accessible the open data they publish actually appears to citizens, and where improvements are necessary to make open data really open and useful. This increases its usefulness as an advocacy tool and broadens its impact.

Why is this needed?

An increasing number of governments have made commitments to open up their data. But it’s not clear that these commitments are actually being fulfilled.

How much data is actually being released? What kind of data is it, and in what format is it published? Which countries, regions and cities are the most advanced and which are lagging behind in relation to open data?

All these questions are important to answer if we want to understand the state of open data in the world.

As a benchmarking tool, the Global Open Data Index helps to answer these questions. The Global Open Data Index allows people to compare the state of open data between countries and to measure progress year upon year. This encourages governments, local administrations, and citizens, media and civil society to work towards improving the quality and increasing the quantity of open data.

Since the Global Open Data Index came out in 2013, a number of governments - including Russia, Indonesia, Germany and Belgium - have used the Index as a yardstick for their achievements (or lack thereof).

The Index also acts to establish global norms for open government data, and provides guidance to civil societies and policy makers about where new opportunities may lie to advance the open government agenda.

Why do we only have ten questions?

The Global Open Data Index focuses on ten key questions in order to streamline data collection. We want to maximise the amount of people who contribute to the Index, across local administrations, countries, regions and languages. Limiting our datasets to ten encourages wide participation, and allows us to more easily find datasets that are relevant and comparable globally.

Our aim is also for each dataset to be carefully validated against the Open Definition.

Why is the Open Data Index Community contributor driven?

We want to understand how civil society is able to find open data in each country. We are looking at a range of datasets which cut across interests and activities and there is no reason to assume one person is well placed to assess all of them. By working with contributors, those people in each country most interested in each dataset can contribute their expertise and knowledge, raising the quality of the Global Open Data Index and creating a valuable resource which is useful for activists and journalists seeking out datasets, too. Open is built by the power of global community everywhere. We are building on our strengths.

More generally, the Global Open Data Index is a powerful tool to raise awareness of open data with new groups and to build capacity and understanding. Getting involved in contributing to the Index in your country is a great way to start out in open data.

What about providing an tool to measure open data in cities?

Good question! In fact, if you want a city census, you can build it. We encourage you to request a city census for your area. Read a blog post about this here and see what others have been doing here.

We have had a huge amount of interest in this work and encourage your engagement on the local level as well. Or, feel free to suggest this on your local lists, and see if you can team up with other city censuses to work on these together.

If you’re ready to start up a city census in your area you can get started here.

What organisations are involved in the Global Open Data Index?

The Global Open Data Index was initiated by Open Knowledge. It is maintained, coordinated and hosted by Open Knowledge and its Open Government Data working group with contributions from many members of the wider community around the globe. Join the discussions through the Open Data Census discussion forum.

What datasets are included in the Global Open Data Index?

There are 10 main datasets which are included in the Global Open Data Index. We have aimed to keep datasets simple, clear and easy to understand, and as applicable as possible to most countries worldwide. We encourage your participation in debates around dataset definitions and refinements.

For more details on these datasets, please see our methodology section.

What is the "Changes" Tab?

This page shows recent submissions to the Index. Check here to see the latest updates.

How reliable is the Global Open Data Index?

The information in the Index is collected by open data enthusiasts and experts around the world including the Open Knowledge Open Government Working Group. The Index data undergoes a process of expert review before being published, to ensure high quality results.

For more information, please see the methodology section.

How can I review previous Indexes?

Right now we're focused on the 2014 Index and so the information live on the site is revolves around it. Older census’ can be find in the following link -

Submitting information to the Index

What's the Open Data Index data collection and review process?

  1. MENTORS get approached and asked to help find CONTRIBUTORS and a REVIEWER for their country. They may offer to take REVIEWER role themselves.

  2. A CONTRIBUTOR makes a submission in the Global Open Data Census by going to, where the submission is queued up for review by a REVIEWER. These will remain queued up for the full duration of the sprints.

  3. After the sprints, the REVIEWERS will go in and review all submissions and push the correct ones to the Census league table.

  4. The final, reviewed results will be transferred to the non-editable Global Open Data Index and press release will be produced.

for more details, please refer to Methodology section.

How can I improve the Index information about a country?

If you've got information about a dataset which isn't in the Index yet you can add it! Anyone can submit new information to the Index by following these steps: Select your country in the list and click on it. You are now on the Country overview page for that country Click the blue “Submit Information" button on the right next to the appropriate category. Fill the form based on the dataset you have found (there are detailed instructions on the page). * Click Submit. Your submission is now waiting for review, and will be visible in the table as 'awaiting review' after a few minutes.

Please see further details in the tutorial

How can I correct an existing entry in the Index?

We welcome corrections to the Index. Anyone can submit corrections to the Index.

  • Select your country in the list and click on it.
  • Go to the correct country by clicking it.
  • On the Country overview page, click the blue “Submit Information" button on the right next to the appropriate category.
  • Fill in the form based on the changes you want to make to the existing data.
  • Click Submit. Your submission is now waiting for review, and will be visible in the table as 'awaiting review' after a few minutes.

Please see further details in the tutorial

How should I use the comments/details field when submitting and reviewing?

Comparing datasets between countries are, as mentioned, a complex and often difficult task. This is why the comments/details field is public, so that submitters and reviewers can explain the reasoning for their choices. In other words, the comments/details field is your main tool to ensure that your Country's entries and scores can be compared to other countries'. We therefore strongly encourage you to be thorough in your comments, as that will reflect on how your country is perceived and compared. Tip: Try to see the comments of countries with similar scores in the given category, or go to countries whose data systems and governance structure may be similar to your country.

Assessment of datasets

What do all the questions about the datasets mean?

The question about the datasets helps us to measure how open they are in legal and technical terms.

The following questions include recurring questions and issues from submitters and reviewers that have been discussed on the Census discussion forum.

What should the Postcodes/Zip Codes dataset include?

A list of the postcodes alone are not enough, as an important component is the land mass that they refer to. So the data having latitude/longitude components is a key requirement. There could however also be cases where the corresponding location information (eg town name) could be converted to lat/long through the use of other open data (eg an open address register or gazetteer with lat/longs). A more detailed discussion can be found in this thread on the Census discussion list.

Please see further details in the tutorial

How far back should the data go before elections info is considered valid?

There is no strict guideline for this, but in general the data should include at least the most recent cycle. Please enter your explanation and justification in the details section.

What kind of data needs to be submitted for the National Map dataset?

Map details can vary a lot, so consider providing more detailed information in the comments section. For example - cartographic boundaries (coastline plus country borders), topographic values (that show elevation), land cover (forests versus lakes, etc.) - or even satellite images. Also, what sort of properties does it contain? For example, if the dataset is a set of images (Tiff), are they georeferenced (GeoTiff)? Are they vector or raster? Print-ready?

See more detailed discussions in this thread on the Census discussion list.

Transport Timetables

Some countries do not have national timetables for transport. In this case, either list the data as ‘unavailable’ (bearing in mind that this will reflect on the overall score of your country) or see if major regional data on transport timetables are released openly. If so, record this in the national timetable field, making sure you provide a detailed explanation of why you have included regional transport timetable data in the comments field.

Please see further details in the tutorial

Help the Index

I want to help but I'm not sure where to start!

It’s easy to get started on this activity! Pick a country where the Index shows there is data missing or where there are comments showing that there's uncertainty about whether the data is available openly (perhaps the licence hasn't been specified, for example) or a country that you know well. A targeted search or working in a team with others is a good way to get started. You could ask on the Open Data Census discussion forum whether there's a country or city you could help with. Get together with friends, colleagues, your local open data community or Open Knowledge Foundation local group and dig into data on a given topic or for a given country together.

Keep an eye out for our upcoming online sprints and regional sprints. We would love you to be involved. Follow #odindex14 on Twitter for more updates.

How can you contribute?

The main thing you can do is become a Contributor and add information about the state of open data in your country to the Open Data Index Survey. Please see further details in the tutorial

We also have other ways you can help:

Become a Mentor: mentors support the Index in a variety of ways from engaging new contributors, mentoring them and generally promoting the Index in their community. Activities can include running short virtual “office hours” to support and advise other contributors, promoting the Index with civil society organizations - blogging, tweeting etc. To apply to be a Mentor, please fill in this form.

Become a Reviewer: Reviewers are specially selected experts who review submissions and check them to ensure information is accurate and up-to-date and that the Index is generally of high-quality. To apply to be a Reviewer, fill in this form.

Where can I discuss the Global Open Data Index with others?

Open Data Census discussion forum

I'm confused! How can I get help?

There are lots of people who can help on the Open Data Census discussion forum and there are no silly questions, so we encourage you to post there.

What is Open Data according to the Open Definition?


  • “Open data and content can be freely used, modified, and shared by anyone for any purpose