This Monday I mingled in a tweetjam organized by the open source data integration vendor Talend.
One of the questions discussed was: Are free and open sources of reference data becoming more important in your projects?
When talking “free and open“, not at least in the open source realm, we can’t avoid talking about “free for a fee”. Some sources of open data like Geonames are free as in “free beer”. Other data comes with a fee. In my home country Denmark we have had some discussions about the reasoning in that the government likes to put a fee on mandatory collected data and I have observed similar considerations in our close neighbor country Sweden (By the way: The picture of a bridge that Talend uses a lot like on top of home page here looks like the bridge between Denmark and Sweden).
One challenge I have met over and over again in using free (maybe for a fee) and open data in data integration and data quality improvement is the cost of conformity. When using open government data there may, apart from the pricing, be a lot of differences between the countries in formats, coverage and so on. I think there is a great potential in delivering conformed data from many different sources for specific purposes.