Publishing open data is not just about technology. Tim Berners-Lee’s five stars of linked open data set out a series of approaches that open data initiatives, big and small, can take to publish data on the web. The following five star model seeks to add to this, highlighting key steps that open data initiatives can take to engage with data users. Each star includes a set of questions to unpack what might be involved in taking that step towards engagement.
Government information and data are common resources, managed in trust by government. They provide a platform for public service provision, democratic engagement and accountability, and economic development and innovation. A commitment to open data involves making information and data resources accessible to all without discrimination; and actively engaging to ensure that information and data can be used in a wide range of ways.
Engaging open data should:
★ Be demand driven
- Are your choices about the data you release, how it is structured, and the tools and support provided around it based on community needs and demands?
- Have you got ways of listening to people’s requests for data, and responding with open data?
★ ★ Put data in context
- Do you provide clear information to describe that data you provide, including information about frequency of updates, data formats and data quality?
- Do you include qualitative information alongside datasets such as details of how the data was created, or manuals for working with the data?
- Do you link from data catalogue pages to analysis of the data that your organisation, or third-parties, have already carried out with it, or to third-party tools for working with the data?
★ ★ ★ Support conversation around data
- Can people comment on datasets, or create a structured conversation around data to network with other data users?
- Do you join the conversations?
- Are there easy ways to contact the individual ‘data owner’ in your organisation to ask them questions about the data, or to get them to join the conversation?
- Are there offline opportunities to have conversations that involve your data?
★ ★ ★ ★ Build capacity, skills and networks
- Do you provide or link to tools for people to work with your datasets?
- Do you provide or link to How To guidance on using open data analysis tools, so people can build their capacity and skills to interpret and use data in the ways they want to?
- Do you go out into the community to run skill-building sessions on using data in particular ways, or using particular datasets?
- Do you sponsor or engage with capacity building to help the community work with open data?
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Collaborate on data as a common resource
- Do you have feedback loops so people can help you improve your datasets?
- Do you collaborate with the community to create new data resources (e.g. derived datasets)?
- Do you broker or provide support to people to build and sustain useful tools and services that work with your data?
- Do you work with other organisations to connect up your data sources.