Top 3 Free Open Data Sources Anyone Can Use and Should Use

What does “Open” mean?

Simply said, Open Data is data you can do anything with.  Find, use, download, copy, redistribute.  It’s free. It’s “open source”. 

In the data world however, Open Data does have some contextual meaning in that the data is structured and available for easy use.  In contrast, many datasets are available, but are not organized in a meaningful way for someone to use.  Property Records are one such dataset that is publicly available, but challenging to organize, normalize and use.

Why is Open Data Important?

The democratization of data is important for transparency, accountability and use in our everyday lives.  Data affects our individual behavior, our families and our businesses.  Think of interest rates.  We make investment decisions, home mortgage decisions and business lending and borrowing based on interest rates.  Imagine if we had to guess.

Top 3 Open Data Sets

Below are our top 3 data sets that you can, should and probably are already using in some form or fashion.


The Federal Reserve Economic Data or otherwise known as FRED which is provided by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (

FRED is a great friend.  Everything from unemployment, exchange rates, interest rates, money supply and Gross Domestic Product, FRED aggregates and presents the data in a very tidy and clean way.  Every wonder what the 10-Year Inflation Rate is?  The what?  Well FRED will provide you the data and even let you know what it is.  Thank you FRED.


Climate Data Online (CDO) provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (

This data source provides you historical weather and climate data.  Do you ever think about how the weather affects your business?  Could you incorporate this type of data or information to be predictive about your business’ future sales by seeing what happened in the past.  Or more altruistically, you could study the global trends of weather patterns to decide for yourself if global warming is looming.


United States Census Bureau (

People are People.  Many think of the Census Bureau amassing strictly information on population.  However, the Census Bureau is far more including information on business and the economy, education, and housing to name a few.

Thank You Open Data

Allow us to thank all those governments, organizations, businesses and people that put together Open Data sets.  They are very useful in our daily personal and professional lives.  Thanks to Kaggle, you can even find all the TV shows and movies listed on Netflix.  Now that is something.

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