Open data

In this section:

NSW government open data is data that is publicly available for anyone to use, for any reason.  The NSW Government is committed to the release of open data to support transparency, innovation and new knowledge and insights from combined data sources when it is safe to do so.

Making more government data available as open data is a key commitment of NSW government and a driver of the NSW digital economy.

By providing data to the public, NSW government:

  • Improves transparency and accountability.
  • Empowers citizens.
  • Provides a platform for innovation.

The NSW government is excited to see how citizens and industry will continue to make use of government data in innovative and exciting ways.

Data.NSW brings together thousands of NSW Government open datasets into one searchable website. Click here to view the NSW government data portals.


NSW Open Data Policy

The NSW Open Data Policy supports NSW government agencies to make NSW government data publicly available for anyone to use.

The NSW Open Data Policy encourages NSW government agencies to:

  • Release data for use by the community, research, business and industry.
  • Accelerate the use of data to drive new insights for better public services.
  • Embed open data release into business-as-usual processes.
  • Use data to inform the design of policy, programs and procurement.
  • Support the use of data by the NSW Data Analytics Centre for research and evidence-based decision making.
  • Advance citizen engagement with government and the work of government.
  • Support the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW) (GIPA Act) and promote simple and efficient compliance with the requirements set out in that Act.

Data released to the public must not identify an individual or small groups of people, must not contain sensitive information, or include data that could trigger, create or contribute to a threat, issue, breach or vulnerability. 

To publicly release your data for everyone to use you need to ensure:

  1. There is no personally identifying information (PII) in the data – PII is information about individuals or groups of people who could be re-identified through the release of the information.
  2. There is no sensitive information in the data – Sensitive data could include information about secret or sacred practices, ecological data that may place vulnerable species at risk or commercially sensitive information.
  3. The data can be made freely available and does not need additional controls – Open data is released under very open licenses. These mean that whoever uses your data can generally use it in whatever way they like.When releasing your data you need to ensure that there are no genuine restrictions that would place limitations on how the data can be used, reused or republished.
  4. The data is easily accessible – Your open data should be published either on Data NSW, on your agency or cluster’s data portal, or on your agency website, so that people can easily find and use your data.
  5. The data is supported by good metadata – Your open data is well described so that users can easily understand what it’s about, how they might be able to use it, and any quality or other issues that they may need to understand in order to use it effectively.

It is best practice to release open data that is:

  1. Machine readable – Data should be released in a format that makes it easy for people to use. This means making it available in a format that machines can read, like CSV and not PDF. Making data available through APIs automates the production of up to date machine-readable data.
  2. Current and updated – Maintaining current data is an important part of open data release. Updating data in a timely manner is important. Publishing live, real-time feeds can be incredibly valuable for some types of data. Make sure you use dates or timestamps to help users identify the age and relevance of your data.
  3. Well managed – Open data doesn’t have to be perfect. Part of managing data well is providing data quality statements that explain any limitations, inaccuracies or cautions you want to apply to your data. Use the Data Quality Reporting Tool to easily generate one of these statements for your open data. Publish this statement alongside your data.
  4. Safeguarded where necessary – If you have high value data that should be made available to the community but it contains some sensitive information, you should completely safeguard the data to remove any sensitivities and then make this data safe for public release. 
  5. Subject to public input – Talk to the community, research sector and industry about the type of data they want your agency to release, and how they want this data released. Agencies and members of the public have open data rights and responsibilities.
  6. Easily and routinely made available – There are many ways to make open data release a business as usual practice that’s simply a part of your standard work processes.


Last updated: 19 June 2019