Open Data Policy Guidelines » Guideline 15

Mandate the use of unique identifiers

Unique identifiers are reference numbers used to identify unique individuals, entities, or locations. The use of unique identifiers within and across data sets improves the quality and accuracy of data analysis. Without unique identifiers, some analyses can become difficult or impossible, since similar names may or may not refer to the same entities. Importantly, identifiers should be non-proprietary and public.

Several approaches could be taken to the development and dissemination of unique identifiers. For example, managers of individual data sets could be charged with developing the unique identifiers for the entities they most reference. Alternatively, a lead actor may oversee the development of a comprehensive identifier development schema. See also this list of extensive resources about the need for unique identifiers for corporate entities.

Further reading:

Examples of language for this guideline:

Here are examples of the language for this guideline as included in policies on this site. Please note that the selections of text below are imperfect, and you should check out their source policies to read them in context.