Open Government Data Initiative

The Open Government Data Initiative (OGDI) is a cloud-based, open software solution that enables publicly-available government data to be easily accessed using open data and open development protocols.

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Using open standards and an open application programming interface (API), developers and government agencies can load and retrieve data programmatically for use in innovative citizen-centric applications that can help:

  • Encourage citizens and communities to participate with governments.

  • Enhance collaboration between government agencies and private organizations.

  • Increase government transparency.

  • Provide unique insight into data trends and analysis.

The Open Government Data Initiative, led by Microsoft, promotes the use of open data by enabling its accessibility and re-use via a cloud-based open development repository. Government datasets can be loaded into open data containers which are then easily accessible by citizens, communities, and developers for analysis and development purposes. The high availability and reliability of the Microsoft cloud platform means that large volumes of data can be loaded and published at minimal cost with high scalability.

Publish open data


Developers can use data stored within OGDI to build innovative applications, visualizations, and mashup that empower citizens with improved access to government information. If you are a government developer, you may be able to make your data-based applications more relevant to citizens, agency staff, and partners by combining cross-agency data in new and compelling ways that provide unique insight for data trending and analysis.

Government organizations

Government organization at all levels can take advantage of the data publishing capabilities of OGDI. As a national, state, local agency, city, or council, you can build your own open data catalog for use by external developers, communities, or citizens. Open data catalogs built with OGDI maximize citizen access to public information, putting data in citizens’ hands in innovative, insightful, and convenient ways.

The Windows Azure platform

Using OGDI, government data is accessible through open, standards-based web services from a variety of development environments, including Microsoft .NET, JavaScript, Adobe Flash, PHP, Ruby, Python, and others. OGDI consists of a generic repository for publicly-available government data and a Windows Azure-based read-only data service which exposes the data through Representational State transfer (REST). Learn more about OGDI.

Traditionally, federal, state, and local government datasets are downloaded manually requiring government agencies or citizen developers to host and maintain the data themselves. By providing this software, Microsoft offers governments the cost and openness benefits of programmatic access to data. With this access to data, developers using that data will benefit from:

  • The ability to write programs which access data through web-friendly programming methods without having to download or host large volumes of data.

  • The ability for governments to automatically refresh data without having to buy and maintain additional server infrastructure.

  • The ability to write applications using any technology via open standards.

  • Easier access to a broad array of government datasets which will enable building of new and innovative mashup applications.

Microsoft’s OGDI is provided as an open source solution available through CodePlex, our open source website. Application developers are encouraged to use any client technology of their choice and sample code is provided for Flash, Silverlight, Google Maps, Virtual Earth, PHP, Ruby, and more.