Modern technology – based on the Internet – has given rise not only to many useful automated tools for the collection, transmission, and processing of information, but also placed great emphasis on the use of open standards to facilitate exchange of data and metadata. In the statistical space, the use of such standards as SDMX and DDI are becoming common; in the metadata and data modelling space, we have the Dublin Core, ISO 11179, and many other important initiatives. Many of the transactional standards for activities such as banking supervision and accounting, e-commerce, payments processing, market data, taxes, and financial products description are potentially important as sources of raw input to the information chain.This host of specialized standards requires alignment to maximize the use of information which it structures, for the purposes of statistical measurement and visibility up and down the information chain.
Alongside these standards have been many technology and modelling standards, especially in the web-services space. Foremost among these is the family of ISO 15000 ebXML standards, which include a registry specification, a modelling methodology for transactional data, a business process description methodology, and more. Security is of great importance – notably the SAML specifications – along with many other technology standards. The entire picture is informed by the emergence of Service-Oriented Architectures (SOA) standards. And, of course, we have the messaging and service description languages which have become ubiquitous (SOAP, ebXML Messaging, WSDL, etc.) Because these are generic technology standards, they often provide much broader support than is needed for the exchange of statistical data and metadata. The profusion of web services standards makes it desirable to have agreed best practices and implementation profiles, to guarantee that statistical applications can easily interoperate.
For both kinds of standards, there are useful open-source or freeware tools which would facilitate adoption and interoperable use, and it is supporting this automation of the information chain which is the goal of the Open Data Foundation. It is on this basis of an open, interoperable technology infrastructure that the goals of transparency and better-informed decision-making and research can be realized.
The Open Data Foundation has no interest in competing with existing standards bodies which serve some or all of these functions – we intend to become a place where projects which fill in the gaps can be conducted. This may take the form of open-source development projects or as a forum where experts from different standards bodies can meet to work out standard mappings and alignments. It is realizing the vision of open and accessible data up and down the information chain which is the ultimate goal of this foundation.