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Open Data: The "Second Phase"

Recently, I was lucky enough to participate in the the biennial International Open Data Conference (IODC) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. GovEx’s work on data management, analytics, and community engagement all come together in the open data movement and it was great to hear examples of challenges and success from around the world. The open data movement continues to grow and spending a week with global leaders was a great way to learn and share best practices.

Throughout the week, as I participated in the Open Cities Summit, Standards Day, and the IODC itself, several key themes stood out to me as critical for the “next phase” of the open data movement.

  1. Focus on the people who will use and benefit from open data
    • For too long, we have been opening data and assuming good things will happen. That’s no longer enough and we need to focus on prioritizing opening data with clear benefits and beneficiaries. Focusing on publishing with purpose, following the example of the Open Data Charter’s open up guides can help us start to prioritize use cases and ensure open data can stay relevant for the long haul.
  2. Build capacity among and engage with people
    • Open data practitioners need to find ways to bring open data to people, not the other way around. Open data portals are a fine way to collect information, but aren’t great in helping to connect open data to residents lives. We need to make open data accessible and clear, bring it to people on their terms, and be ready to listen. Building on initial work like the Open Data for All concept in New York is a great place to start
  3. Adapt to new challenges
    • AI, algorithms, and privacy are just a few of the issues confronting open data community. How should open data concepts be applied to algorithms and decision making? How much does individual privacy weigh against open data principles? And how should governments balance the need to publish information while protecting residents rights? Open data practitioners and experts like the Web Foundation are already started to grapple with these questions and we must continue to ask hard questions to ensure positive impact.

There are no easy solutions for these issues but the open data movement must focus on meeting these needs in order to sustain itself in the future. At GovEx, we’re also focusing on these issues through our efforts across several areas of work:

  1. Building capacity among governments to build open data programs through our Launching Open Data Course, and forthcoming Measuring the Impact of Your Open Data Program and Open Data Culture courses;
  2. Improving our datastandards.directory to provide clear information on standards to those who need it and respond to feedback from those working on standards in the field; and
  3. Working with governments to implement a toolkit to address critical issues around algorithms and AI.

If you are interested in any of these issues or would like to collaborate with us, we’d love to hear from you. Please contribute, email us, or follow us on twitter and we look forward to building the next phase of open data together.

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