The 3 Opens

I know it’s been done before but I hear again and again people getting their use of the word Open (Source, Data, Software) mixed up. Most usually there is confusion between the meanings of Open Source and Open Standards. So here are some definitions……

….but before that here’s a nice image of the 3 Opens (data, source, and standards) interacting with each other!

Open Source Software – the source code (the programming code which was used to develop the software) is available to all. Usually there is a collaborative aspect to this type of software and a developer community is actively adding to the code behind the software. An example in the GIS world is the GIS software You can also find much Open Source material at The key organisation behind open source geospatial software is Quite often Open Source software is free (but not always!). Also see often Open Source software makes use of Open Standards……

Open Standards – covers the development of a set of data standards which allows different software (both proprietary and open-source) to transfer data easily and quickly. In the GIS world, the Open Geospatial Consortium maintain a set of geographic information standards such as WMS, WFS and KML (you know as in Google Earth KML). Open Standards should allow easier extraction, transfer and loading of data as it follows a defined format.

Open Data – is free data essentially. There has been a big move in the US, UK and throughout most of the western world to open up data to the general public, especially data which governments collect (see and In the UK, the Ordnance Survey has released OS Open Data which is a set of freely available geographic information including terrain data, place data, postcodes, roads, buildings etc.

I might add to these definitions over time. Let me know what you think!

Where’s Scotland?

I logged into Facebook today for the first time in a long time, and some of my photos have been geocoded to the Places map.
This looks nice I guess, until I see that our trip to Scotland in 2008 has been placed on the East Coast of the USA in the Connecticut city of…..Scotland!
Obviously Facebook has my home location a bit confused. But a country should come before a city in any case!

turn £1 into £2.25 for MapAction

DONATE NOW! Matched funding finishes on 19th December 2012

some news from MapAction…..

You can more than double your donation this December through the Big Give Christmas Challenge. Every £1 you donate could be worth £2.25 once you factor in matched giving and Gift Aid*.

From 10am on Thursday 6 December until Saturday 8 December, online donations to MapAction through the Big Give Christmas Challenge will be eligible for matched funding. All proceeds will be directly channelled into our emergency mapping service and will help to get humanitarian aid to where it’s needed most.

There are limited funds available on each day, so please log onto: at 10am on Thursday 6th, Friday 7th and/or Saturday 8th December to avoid missing out.

Please do set yourself a reminder to log in at 10am on Thursday 6, Friday 7 and/or Saturday 8 December.

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