Open data is, basically, the idea that certain data should be freely available to everyone to use as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control. A piece of data is open if anyone is free to use, reuse, and redistribute it — subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and/or share-alike.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web talks about open data in this TED talk:
“Opening up data is fundamentally about more efficient use of resources and improving service delivery for citizens. The effects of that are far reaching: innovation, transparency, accountability, better governance and economic growth.”
The idea would be: if you make your datasets open to the public, more researchers would have the opportunity to play with it and see what gives; potentially expanding knowledge. This can be particularly helpful for those operating on limited resources of their own: a lot of researchers using open data come from the global South/open data is being very successfully used by research informing policymakers in developed countries; see, for example, Ghana’s open data initiative or the Open Data Research network.
Now, Sir Berners-Lee makes another interesting distinction:
So, last Sunday, Aug. 28, has been the international action day for the decriminalization of abortion, and last week I have attended a very interesting Amnesty International conference/solidarity event, where I have found out about the plight of women in El Salvador imprisoned for having suffered miscarriages while not having access to medical care and supervision.
There is evidence that restricting the availability of legal abortion does not appear to reduce the number of women trying to end unwanted pregnancies (see here), what it does lead to is the death of around 70,000 women yearly from seeking unsafe illegal abortions; and the death of women denied the termination of a pregnancy that endangers their lives (often non-viable anyway).
Today on Jezebel, I came across another study, carried out by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco; tracking 862 women over the course of five years. The participants were divided into three groups: women seeking abortions who were within two weeks of the facility’s gestational age limit for the procedure (Near Limit Abortion Group), women who were turned away because their fetus was over that age limit (Turnaway Group) and women receiving an abortion in the first trimester (First Trimester Abortion Group). Each participant was asked questions about physical and psychological violence from the man involved in the pregnancy during biannual interviews.