14 The five stars of open data

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In 2010, the British scientist Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, proposed a star rating system to encourage society, especially government data custodians, to open their data. The system helps to diagnose the level of open data in public agencies and provides achievable steps to reach increasingly higher levels of open data.


The first stage of the five-star system only requires that your data be available on the Web in any format (a PDF document, a Word file, or any other type, proprietary or not, open or not). In addition to being accessible on the Web, the data should be provided under an open license. An open license gives the authorization for this data to be used by anyone without restriction and for any purpose, including commercial. Several open licenses describe the use of data. This guide is not an exhaustive analysis of existing open licenses, but it gives guidelines so that each agency can formulate open licenses that are compatible with international principles of open data.

In order to meet the requirements of the first star, a file just needs to be posted on the Web in any format with an open use license specified. If your agency already publishes data on the Web in any format, this means that you just need to add an open license to be awarded the first star.