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Best Practice: Categorise openness of data

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This is one of a set of Best Practices for implementing the (Revised) PSI Directive developed by the .

Creative Commons Licence Share-PSI Best Practice: Categorise openness of data by Share-PSI 2.0 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Establishing a simple system to categorise the openness of data makes it easier for public sector organisations to determine with whom data can be shared.


How to ensure that data is shared with the authorised users and to identify datasets which can be easily opened up for all?

Public sector organisations often only consider

  • what can be open for all and don’t think about datasets which can be shared or
  • get concerned about the difficult datasets which cannot be opened, rather then identifying the low hanging fruit which can be made easily available.

However, it may also be useful to publish data that can be shared under certain restrictions.


Descriptions on both open data and data with legal restrictions can be published with an indication of who it can be shared with. DCAT-APs “access right” property can be used for this purpose, combined with a color code system for end users.

  • :public (green) for data that can be made available with no restrictions;
  • :restricted (yellow) for data that is not open for all and has some restrictions,and data which an organisation may be unsure of the status of;
  • :non public (red) for data that is sensitive and can only be made available under strict conditions.

A colour code is not the only way to denote the category of data openness. Other schemes with a similar meaning could be used as well.

Why is this a Best Practice?

The categorisation is simple. It is not designed to facilitate a deep and exhaustive mapping of data in an organisation, but rather it allows for an initial overview and categorisation to get the ball rolling.


By providing transparency on what information your agency holds, it is possible for reusers to provide feedback on your priorities and for other public sector bodies to discover datasets they potentially can reuse (under certain legal restricions).

How do I implement this Best Practice?

The only major requirement here is that someone has responsibility to perform this for the organisation. Technical requirements are minimal. Some simple tools are necessary to assist in the identification and release of some data early.

Establish an overview of managed datasets in your organization and implement a basic legal examination of the content of each dataset. Use DCAT-APs access rights property to indicate level of openness.

Where has this best practice been implemented?

Country Implementation Contact Point
Norway Difi Traffic Light System Heather Broomfield, Difi.


Local Guidance

This Best Practice is cited by, or is consistent with, the advice given within the following guides:

Contact Info

Heather Broomfield, Difi (Norway).

Issue Tracker

Any matters arising from this BP, including implementation experience, lessons learnt, places where it has been implemented or guides that cite this BP can be recorded and discussed on the project's GitHub repository

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