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    Announcing Ably's Open Data Streaming Program

    Announcing Ably's Open Data Streaming Program

    We believe the future is open and support the open movement. As of today, developers can host and distribute open streaming data sources for free on the API Streamer platform, through the Open Data Streaming Program (ODSP).

    Under the ODSP, anyone can publish streams of realtime data for free on the API Streamer, provided the data is made freely available for others to consume, and subject to a fair use policy.

    In essence, the ODSP seeks to liberate the many sources of realtime data around the world, by providing the means to:

    • Enable producers of open realtime data to publish their streams, without needing to think about infrastructure, protocols, APIs or how many consumers there might be
    • Push this realtime data to any number of consumers as soon as it becomes available, using the consumer’s chosen means of delivery

    How the Open Data Streaming Program works

    If you’re a data producer, you can publish and distribute open realtime data on the Ably API Streamer without charge. This includes a listing in the Ably Hub, our app-store-like dataset portal.

    The Ably Hub

    The Ably Hub makes it easy for developers and other data consumers to find your data streams and build innovative applications around them. It already contains a wide variety of realtime data, including:

    From a developer’s perspective, the API Streamer supports open protocols (including AMQP, STOMP and MQTT), and provides SDKs in every popular platform, which you can embed to consume realtime data. In addition, the Streamer provides a unified API that enables you to combine multiple sources over a single, multiplexed connection. And it also includes the Reactor, which can push to third-party systems, such as serverless functions, webhooks or Kafka, RabbitMQ or Kinesis.

    Where this fits in the open data landscape

    Data is key to virtually every organization in the world. As you’ll know, the right data, presented in the right way at the right time, can enable better decision-making at every level, which in turn unlocks real competitive advantage.

    Having access to accurate, high-quality data is therefore incredibly important. And the growing body of freely available data in the world, known as ‘open data’, is a huge help in this regard. Wikipedia is a great example of an open data source that’s transformed the way knowledge is shared.

    According to OpenDataSoft, there are more than 2600 open data portals around the world, where developers can get data to use in their applications.

    Open Data Movement — credit to Paul Van Slembrouck, via visual.ly

    The Open Data Streaming Program: Filling a critical gap

    The majority of open data available today is static or historical data, which could be anything from a few minutes to many years old. There are plenty of places where organizations can publish this static data for others to consume, without needing to worry about the infrastructure or how people access it. And because the data is static, it’s generally only available using pull mechanisms, where the data consumer must actively request information from its source.

    This is all great, but it doesn’t address the growing number of use cases where the requirement is for realtime data, which can be delivered to its destination within milliseconds of being created. When you look at the open realtime data landscape, the choice of hosting and delivery mechanism is much more limited.

    According to the European Data Portal, “dynamic data is one of the most commercially valuable types of data, as it can be used for products and services that provide information in real time, such as travel or transport apps”. The problem is echoed in a separate commentary from Andrus Ansip, European Commissioner for the Digital Single Market, released in January 2019. Drawing attention to the value of the open data (with an estimated EU market size of EUR 75.7bn by 2020), he notes “real-time access to public sector data is relatively rare, and can cost a lot for re-users, too much to make it useful for startups and other smaller users”.

    This is the gap the Open Data Streaming Program (ODSP) aims to fill.

    Under the ODSP, anyone can publish streams of realtime data for free on our API Streamer platform, provided the data is made freely available for others to consume, and subject to a fair use policy.

    In essence, the ODSP seeks to liberate the many sources of realtime data around the world, by providing the means to:

    • Enable producers of open realtime data to publish their streams, without needing to think about infrastructure, protocols and APIs
    • Push this realtime data to consumers as soon as it becomes available, using the consumer’s chosen means of delivery
    The Ably API Streamer — free for open data sources

    Why we’re doing this

    We believe the future is open and that data forms a critical part of building a truly open web. All Ably’s client libraries and documentation are currently open-sourced, and we’re always looking for ways to contribute back to the wider community. It’s why we’re part of the OpenAPI Initiative and AsyncAPI working group.

    Our belief is that the more we can help data producers share open data, and the easier (and cheaper) we make it for data consumers to use that data, the more innovation we will see in the development community. And that benefits us all in the way we live, work, travel and play.

    This is why we’re offering free access to the Ably API Streamer, so that the huge number of realtime data producers in the world can get their data into the hands of developers, who are waiting to build amazing things with it.

    Liberate your data freely

    We’re actively looking for new open realtime data sources to host on Streamer and showcase via the Ably Hub. If you’ve got data that needs liberating, please get in touch. Equally, if you want to consume free open streaming data, head over to the Ably Hub.


    Matthew is the CEO and Co-Founder of Ably Realtime


    Matthew O'Riordan

    Matthew O'Riordan

    CEO and co-founder of Ably. Previously co-founded Econsultancy, sold in 2012. Love programming, distributed systems, product design, and skiing, kite surfing and skydiving.

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