Are you really Open?

What makes data open?

Open data is data that is made available by organisations, businesses and individuals for anyone to access, use and share

Good open data:

  • can be linked to, so that it can easily be shared and talked about
  • is available in a standard, structured format, so that it can easily process
  • has guaranteed availability and consistency over time, so that others can rely on it
  • is traceable, through any processing, right back to where it originates, so others can work out whether to trust it

There is an early analysis report of Malaysia’s Open Data Portal which summarized the findings below:

  • There is not much interest in the portal yet
  • Many links to the datasets are broken
  • Out of 121 available datasets, 102 are PDF files (PDF files are difficult for machines to read)

What’s surprising is that about 85% of the data are in PDF format and most of them are Reports which contained Table of Figures in summarising form. There’re no real datasets (raw data) that you can work on.

It seems that Malaysia will have a terrible time trying to correlate any Big Data between the Social Media or Sensor data with the so-called “Open Data” from the website. What’s more worrying is that if we don’t keep the raw/original data in a structured manner, we will lose the data forever. Thus, we have to start all over again.

However, after the above report, there is a big revamp on the Open Data Portal. Check the latest here. It’s a big improvement from the previous report.

However, according to Open Data Barometer, Malaysia is ranked at 51 at ODB score of 24.6 (Average ODB score of East Asia, Pacific is 40.24).



Screenshot dated August 22, 2016


I think it’s time for Malaysia to start collecting data in the purest form (raw data with sufficient extraction of related info) – be it social media data, demographics, sensor data, etc. You will never know the importance of the data until you ask for it.

What if we have the historical data of:

  • traffic pattern or performance of public transportation before and after any new roads that are being built
  • water drops for the last ten years
  • river quality for the past twenty years
  • pollution level of the cities for the past five years
  • the wifi hotspots signal strength and the availability of free hotspots
  • the telco base stations and their emitting power
  • noise level/pollution of cities for the last ten years

… and many more data that can be made public

These kinds of data will help us to plan better for the future; it will be able to detect the cause of the problems and even help the citizens to make a better choice where they want to buy a housing estate. And if you allow this data to be open to other application developers, we will be able to harness their creativity to create applications which we might never imagine before.

What do you think? What’s your thoughts on acquiring and publishing open data?

About the Author

Dr. Mazlan Abbas is an IOT Evangelist, Thought Leader and CEO of REDtone IOT. You can reach him on LinkedIn at or Twitter at . For further details, check out

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