A staggering range and volume of data are created each day (2.5 quintillion bytes, in fact) and although much of the mainstream focus is understandably centred on the collection of personal information and its implications for privacy and liberty, there is less recognition of the accumulation of non-personal, anonymised or non-reidentifiable information. The potential of these data in problem solving - when available - also appears to be underappreciated. In a world that champions policies and interventions based on empirical evidence the idea that such data are not open or widely shared would seem illogical, but unfortunately this is still the case in many instances.
Like the open access movement, the case for open data is both objective and normative. Setting aside, for a moment, the significant economic, environmental and social value of making data available, the ethical case alone is difficult to dispute. If SDG 10 - ‘to reduce inequalities within and among countries’ - is to be authentically pursued then unequal opportunity of accessing and using data represents a fundamental limitation for any endeavours that truly aim to strengthen capacity among the global research community.
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