A Conversation on Open Data Standards

A posting below concerning #socrata and the development of an #opendatastandard and the merging of Socrata's GitHub posting with the standard being developed at the OKF: http://blog.opennorth.ca/2012/11/22/open-data-standards/
Will Pugh (Socrata):

I appreciate the conversations. I think there are a few places this blog missed the mark, but the issue of trading off speed for effective governance is a reasonable discussion. The blog does not have a place to comment, so I'll respond here (and possibly a later blog post).

The Government Linked Data Working Group has done a good job in defining a number of the vocabularies for catalogs and linked data, however, in terms of last mile standards in terms of how catalogs synchronize and federate with each other, these are a good starting point but not enough. Both the open-data-standards initiative as well as the spec.datacatalogs.org initiative start where the Government Linked Data Working Group and DCAT left off. They are focussed on providing the interoperability protocols between catalogs, built on DCAT.

The standards efforts that have some overlap with the open-data-standards.github.com, are NOT the DCAT and Government Linked Data efforts. They are spec.datacatalogs.org and www.dataprotocols.org. As I mentioned in my previous email, I've had some talks with Rufus and am hopeful that we can merge these efforts. However, if we merge efforts, the governance issues are still valid. None of these efforts have effective governance bodies, and are subject to the same fragmentation that Stephane and James referred to for Open311.

One model I've seen was how the http://www.simplecloud.info/ standard formed. It started as a Google Group and a repo for the specs. After getting agreement across the folks participating, they then found a standards organization for it, and it is now under the IETF. However, by starting with the discussion outside the standards body, they were able to make progress quickly. Then, move the the standards body for governance and upkeep after much of the initial work and agreements were made.

My goal would be to have the interoperability standards we are working on follow the same path. I agree effective governance is important, but right now, I think quickly getting to interoperable catalogs and datasources is important.
Jason Hare (Raleigh)

Speaking as a person responsible for our organization's Open Data Program I am loathe to go the way of some cities in developing a standard for our own temporary expedient use. The interoperability issues and fragmentation would make it difficult to see a roadmap toward a regional open data model. Like many other metro areas, Raleigh is a large city surrounded by smaller communities and part of our identity is our association with the Research Triangle Park. I would like to see the merging of a standard between Socrata and the OKF. From a pragmatic point of view, Socrata is a popular choice among US PSA organizations and has the resources and ability to affect the roadmap of Open Data from a PSA perspective for the foreseeable future. Sustainability and interoperability need to be what Open Data professionals within any PSA should be prioritizing. App developers should be looking closely at the sustainability and standards models of any open data API that is setup by a PSA.


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