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Openactive data sharing

Yorkshire Sport Foundation is part of the ODI’s Openactive project, through our website data system ‘Sportsuite’

We are also an OpenActive Champion, committed to a programme to support people working with data to transform the sport and physical activity sector across the country.

OpenActive Enabled badge

The Openactive vision is to help people get active by making data about sport and physical activity opportunities openly available – as open ‘opportunity’ data.

Stimulating the supply of open ‘opportunity’ data, its use and innovation will enable people to easily discover suitable activities and make better choices to take part, and support activity providers to attract more people.

The OpenActive initiative is making data about where and when sport and physical activities happen open for anyone to access, use and share, so that more places, products and services can better inform people of opportunities to get active.

This open ‘opportunity’ data includes details of a yoga class (“how much will it cost?”) through to badminton court availability (“where and when is a court available?”). It does not include membership or customer data.

Many more people will be able to find the sport and physical activity opportunities you organise if you publish data about them openly to the web. And if more people view the opportunities, we increase the chance of someone participating.

What is in it for me as an activity provider?

  • Get your activities and sessions listed in a wider range of apps and services, letting you reach a broader audience through more channels than before
  • Make it simpler for new or existing customers to find the activities that you run
  • Find new ways to promote and fill quiet sessions
  • Making your data open means that developers and apps can use it straight away; you don’t need to set up data sharing agreements with individual companies
  • Have your say on the development of the data standards so that they work for you
  • Make sure that you comply with the most recent funding agreements from Sport England

Data in the travel sector. Can we get there?

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

Equally, finding the quickest way from A to B in London has been transformed over recent years by a proliferation of apps and services, including Citymapper, powered by Transport for London data being published over the last eight years.

We can do the same in the physical activity sector, with activity providers making data about their activities available as open data. Once open, these opportunities can then be made more visible through a range of apps and services – from HR departments getting their employees more active, to health insurance companies promoting activities to their membership, to improving search results on Google.

OpenActive is currently focusing on four core areas:

  • Supporting activity providers to publish their opportunity data
  • Getting developers and innovators using the new opportunity data
  • Collaborating with the physical activity sector to develop data standards, so that all opportunity data is published consistently and can easily be used
  • Delivering training, case studies and guidance to help leisure operators, trusts, clubs, gyms and other activity providers understand how open opportunity data (e.g. timetables and availability) can lead to a better customer experience

Who is involved?

OpenActive is stewarded by the Open Data Institute (ODI), supported by Sport England and formed of member organisations and individuals in the sport and physical activity sector who share a vision to help people get active by stimulating use and innovation with open data.

The ODI and supporting members are reaching out to a wide range of physical activity organisations, including:

  • Physical activity providers (including leisure operators and trusts)
  • National governing bodies
  • Leisure booking systems
  • Innovators and data users
  • A range of influencers from across the physical activity sector

What are we asking activity providers to do?

  • We will be helping them to publish timetable and availability data (or ‘opportunity data’). This includes the type of activity, where and when it’s taking place, and the availability. It is data that activity providers and leisure operators usually want to be seen by customers, for example through their own booking platforms. Making it open means it can reach customers in more ways. Once it is published as open data, anyone can access, use and share it.
  • We are very happy to support activity providers in opening up their data, email us at hello@openactive.io or fill out this short form

What we are doing to make this easier for them?

  • We recognise that open data is a new concept for many. We have created a free e-learning course to take them through the basics.
  • We want their input in the development of the data standards so that they work for them. They can help us do this by joining our standards group.
  • By signing up to our newsletter they can see how other organisations in the community are publishing their data.


Common questions

  • Will customers be able to book our activities through different apps and services once I’ve opened my data?

Our focus is helping organisations like you to publish their timetables and availability. This is the first step in the process, after which we will look at how to establish a seamless booking experience for customers, as in other sectors. Once a critical mass of data has been opened we will be encouraging innovators and data users to create new products and services with this data. .

  • What sort of things will people build with my data?

There are a wide range of applications for opportunity data. Tools that allow people to find activities in their local area are already starting to appear. There are other use cases that we expect to appear, such as a tool that allows a doctor to prescribe activities to patients. We will be encouraging innovators and developers to cater to a range of different customers and scenarios.

  • How will people know that I’ve published data?

The OpenActive website lists all the data that is published; developers can then find this data via Google. We are also actively promoting these datasets among the developer and data user community.

  • What about data quality?

This is part of our future work, though the current focus is on getting data published. We are planning on incorporating national schemes such as ClubMark and CoachMark and local schemes such as CamdenMark.

  • How do I open my data?

Opening your data is straightforward, although you will need some technical skills. There are step-by-step instructions you can follow on the OpenActive website.

  • How is OA different to previous initiatives/attempts?

Previous work to open up data in the physical activity sector has focused on creating a single centralised website to help people find sport and fitness opportunities near them. Gathering all the data in one place while also crafting a great experience for the consumer proved too much for a single programme. OpenActive is promoting a decentralised approach. Rather than an activity finder on a single website we are working to build an open market where innovators can build apps, tools and services (including activity finders) using open data. This will allow a broader range of services to appear that can help specific types of users.

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