(adapted/excerpted from the Open Data Handbook)
Open data is data that can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone - subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and share-alike. Some requirements for data to be truly open are as follows.
Why is it so important to be clear about the definition of “open”? The answer: interoperability, which is the ability of diverse systems and organizations to work together (inter-operate). In this case, it is the ability to usefully combine datasets from different countries in the lower Mekong region.
Interoperability allows for different components to work together. This ability to make components and to plug them together is essential to building large, complex systems. Without interoperability this becomes nearly impossible.
The core of a “commons” of data (or code) is that one piece of “open” material can be freely intermixed with other “open” material. This interoperability is key to achieving the main practical benefits of “openness”: the enhanced ability to combine different datasets together and thereby to develop more and better products and services. This ability to combine separate pieces from different sources into larger, more sophisticated systems is the real value of the openness standard.
(from the Open Knowledge Foundation)
Some common reasons for supporting open data:
When exploring the Open Development Mekong data catalog, you are likely to find data provided in a variety of formats. The formats were chosen to best match the information the data describes: images as PNGs and TIFFs, text documents as Word Documents (DOC), Text (TXT) files, and sometimes PDFs, spreadsheets as CSVs, and geospatial information as GeoJSON, TopoJSON, KML, and ESRI Shapefile. These are all considered open formats and can be used freely in many applications and on most computer operating systems.
The information below will help you better understand the file formats used in the ODM catalog and how you can begin investigating their contents.