What is open data?

Open data is data that anyone can access, use or share. In the sport and physical activity sector, open ‘opportunity data’ is information about where and when sport and physical activities happen. This includes descriptions, times, prices, locations and availability of sessions, but does not include personal customer data, commercially sensitive data or participation and attendance data.


Who are Open Active?

OpenActive is a community-led initiative with the ambition to help people in England get active using open data. The initiative is stewarded by the Open Data Institute (ODI) and supported by Sport England. It is formed by organisations and engaged individuals working within the sport and physical activity sector, including Kent Sport.

Find out more about OpenActive


How does it work and what are the benefits?

Travel

When you search for a holiday online you find the same hotels and flights featured on lots of different websites, each with accurate information and a simple booking process. That’s because travel sites such as Expedia, Hotels.com and Lastminute.com all use the same data, which is shared by the booking systems of hotels, airlines and car rental companies according to defined standards.

Hotels and airlines publish descriptions, times, dates and availability as open data. Sites such as Expedia, Booking.com, Hotels.com and lastminute.com use this information to make it easy for people to search, find, compare and book holidays in one place.

Sport and physical activity

In contrast, information about physical activities is published in many different formats both online across a range of websites and social media, and offline through flyers, newspaper listings or community noticeboards. As a result, people may find it hard to browse and book local opportunities, and services wanting to promote activities may struggle to share information and keep it up to date.

Open opportunity data means activities can be listed online in more places, products and services, helping activity providers to reach more people and consumers to discover and take part in new activities more easily. Open data has the potential to help innovators build a range of products and services that meet people’s’ digital expectations in the same way as those you find in the travel sector. From activity finders for wide audiences, to very tailored services aimed at getting specific kinds of people active.

If activity providers and facilities publish the descriptions, times, dates and availability of sessions as open data then sites such as Kent Sport, This Girl Can and Change4Life can use this information to make it easier for people to search, find, compare and book sessions and facilities.


Who is involved?

Current open data publishers include:

  • Open Sessions
  • TM Active
  • British Triathlon
  • Fusion Lifestyle
  • Ashford Leisure Trust
  • EMD UK
  • England Athletics
  • British Cycling

Current open data consumers include:

  • Parasport
  • MCR Active
  • Ordnance Survey
  • Kent Sport
  • Lucozade Sport
  • This Girl Can
  • Change4Life
  • London Sport

Getting started

Is your club or organisation an activity provider? Join the open data revolution and help more people to discover and take part in your activities. The best way to get started depends on how you currently promote your activity sessions, which can broadly be split into three groups:

Option A: You have have an online system where you list activities.

If you use an online system, then the first step is to find out if it is already open data enabled – the OpenActive website has a list of OpenActive-enabled systems. If it is not open already then you may need to ask your system provider to create an open data feed. Kent Sport and OpenActive can help support you with doing this.

Option B: You don’t use an online system.

If you don’t currently use an online system, then you can still get involved. There are several free systems available for clubs and organisations to list their data openly.

Open Sessions

Open Sessions has been created by London Sport to offer activity providers a free way to publish their activities as open data. Once you have registered your club or organisation, simply add your sessions and tick the box to confirm you are happy for them to be published in the Open Sessions OpenActive data feed to be picked up by the activity finders of other organisations including Kent Sport and This Girl Can.

Visit the Open Sessions website to register

Classfinder

Classfinder is a website created and managed by EMD UK, the national governing body for group exercise. It is a great way for any group exercise instructors to market their sessions and access the benefits of open data.

Visit the Classfinder website to register

Option C: You have a custom-built booking or listing system

If you use a custom system, then you will need to ask your developers to create an open data feed. OpenActive and Kent Sport can offer help and support with this if needed.


Get in touch

If you’re not sure of how to get involved, would like to find out more information, or need some support with opening your data then we’d be happy to help.