Factual is a huge supporter of data connectivity: the idea that data gains value when linked to other datasets, and loses value when it is technically or semantically isolated. Pragmatically, this means we recognize that our Global Places data is not the only place data in the world, so we provide a crosswalk of our data to known entities, and tools to match and enrich your own.
At the heart of our data lies the Factual ID, a 36-character alphanumeric string that uniquely identifies every Factual entity (e.g. ‘03c26917-5d66-4de9-96bc-b13066173c65’). Add this identifier onto the end of our URL and you get the endpoint for every entity: http://www.factual.com/03c26917-5d66-4de9-96bc-b13066173c65.
The thing about most identifiers, however, is that they are often proprietary, which leads to disconnected data and significant license friction. Take, for example, DUNS, the Dun & Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System, described as being “recognized, recommended, and/or required by more than 200 global, industry, and trade associations, including the U.N., European Commission, and the U.S. Federal Government”. However, the DUNS itself is proprietary: in June 2012 the US General Accounting Office produced a report on government’s DUNS dependency and concluded that its ongoing use contributes to overall higher costs, restricts use, and promotes lock-in. OpenCorporates does a great write-up and notes especially that proprietary identifiers have no place in Open Government. Nor connected systems.
Factual has taken this view since our inception, but we want to make it official: from today, Factual Identifiers are licensed formally under CC-BY. Anyone engaging with Factual via our TOS or under contract will see this called out explicitly. Factual partners can now attach Factual IDs to their own content, and redistribute and reuse them, without worrying about license encumbrances.
Factual was founded to address the many inefficiencies and broken systems in the data world. Explicitly unencumbering our identifiers is a very small step, but important nonetheless.
- Tyler Bell