Content and ideas on developing and implementing standards and best practices for open data, data governance, data sharing, and technological strategies. These writing focus on the public sector and provide my views on data collection, use, ethics, privacy, and management.
Open Raleigh and Open Data: Definitions
Above is a heat map of geospatial data from the City of Raleigh's Open Data Portal
This is a reuse of a great post on http://www.opensource.com by +Jason Hibbets. See the Creative Commons attribute at the end of this post.
One of the keys to a successful open data portal is to make it useful for the end user. Citizens and developers should be able to understand data sets without needing a PhD. Many folks have followed the progress of Raleigh, North Carolina's open data initiative, which launched a beta of their data.raleighnc.gov portal in March 2013.
One of the most important parts of Raleigh's open data initiative is that it's not just about the data. The city staff working on the data policy and the open data portal have a full and complete understanding that presenting raw data sets only gets you halfway to your open data mission. Without visualization tools or a way for the average person to understand what the data means, the job is only half done. They also understand that providing the right data sets can help spur innovation and create new businesses—which is why they are spending a lot of time trying to understand which data is most important to the Raleigh community.
Community Collaboration with Civic Leaders
This is one of those rare occasion where I share some of what I do on a day to day basis and not make this about open data in general. The following is an interview I did a few months ago with +Jason Hibbets. Jason and I have been colleagues and co-conspirators since I started with the City of Raleigh in September of 2012.
This interview is in Jason Hibbets' new book "The Foundation for an Open Source City". Getting to work with people like Jason Hibbets, +Reid Serozi, our City Council, the City of Raleigh staff and government leaders around the Triangle has been a life changing experience.
Comments on the State of Open Data
I have changed the interview format from questions to statements followed by my own definition. Feel free to disagree with me and give me your feedback on how you see open data.
A Short Definition of Open Data in the City of Raleigh
Open data is the information infrastructure of the City of Raleigh. When we say "data as infrastructure" we are referring to open data. Open data, open government, and the freedom of information laws are related and have overlap, but are not the same thing. Open data follows cultural, ethical, and technical rules. Ultimately, open data is defined as data sets created by a government entity and made available to the public. The data sets that are released follow the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKFN) guidelines that govern the machine readability, structural issues, and ethical issues of the data released. Our resolution is based on the OKFN guidelines.
The Importance of the Open Data Manager Role
The City of Raleigh wanted an open data manager to ensure that the open data program is developed in a way that is sustainable, transparent, and accessible. Having an open data manager demonstrates Raleigh's commitment to the idea of "open" in regards to data-driven policy development and community engagement.
The Raleigh Vision of Open Data
The short answer is open data is the start of an acculturation process leading to a transparent and collaborative relationship between city government and citizens.
Open data is a necessary but not sufficient effort in that acculturation process. Open Raleigh, as a brand, will emphasize data accessibility and information usability. We are not tying ourselves to a particular technology. We are building an infrastructure using several technologies to deliver information that is the narrative of the city.
The Importance of Data Visualization and the Democratization of Data
There is no transparency without data usability. Tabular rows of numbers and machine readable formats of GIS shape data and CSV's of budget numbers are going to be there for those that want to analyze the raw data themselves. For the other 99% of the rest of us, there will be visualizations that explain the numbers.
Raleigh as a Leader in Open Data
We build on the work of the pioneers of the open data community and take lessons learned. I have spoken with most of the leaders within the open data community, with several citizen groups within Raleigh, and most of the city government leaders. We will adhere to the emerging global data standard and the ethical standards of open data as put forth by the OKFN.
We are developing our own principles that match the culture of our city. Open Raleigh will be different than most North American efforts. We are emphasizing engagement and interactivity with our data. It is important to me that the citizen experience is visually compelling and informative. Health, culture, law, economics, science, and education will all be open topics. Anything that affects the quality of life of our citizens will be reflected in the data we share through Open Raleigh.
None of this happens overnight. We start with the infrastructure and build out. This will be an iterative experience. The open data manager will not be the final arbitrator of what Open Raleigh becomes. It will be the citizens and City working together in governance over Open Raleigh.
Adapted from 'The foundation for an open source city,' (c) 2013 Jason Hibbets, published under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license, available at www.theopensourcecity.com
A look back at Virginia’s 4 years of data innovation with Anthony Fung, Deputy Secretary of Technology for the Commonwealth of Virginia Welcome to the OpenDataSoft Leadership Podcast Series, “Open Data Discussions”. Each month, Jason Hare, our Open Data Evangelist, features a different open data program around the country to discuss what has made it successful. These examples will provide insights and strategies that you can implement in your own city. We had the pleasure of welcoming Anthony Fung, Deputy Secretary of Technology for the Commonwealth of Virginia for the fifth podcast in our series. Anthony discussed various subjects, including: What role does open data play in policymaking at the state level in Virginia? Does his department work on ensuring open data quality? What are some of the steps he makes in ensuring sound data governance? How did Virginia come up with this technology and engagement solutions? How, for example, did yo
Everything you wanted to know but you were afraid to ask. Making data open and available is not just about choosing a format or having an API. A poor choice in your license can prevent people from using them. A traditional open license reassures potential users that their work on the data will be useful in the long run. So, what license should you pick for your data to be broadly used? There are a few things to consider. Choosing a license for your open data can usually be one of the biggest challenges for an open data project. There are plenty of licenses available for your data. Choosing one mostly depends on the usage and reach you want to give to your project. CHOOSE A LICENSE: BASED ON NATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL AND LOCAL STATUTES IN ADDITION TO REUSE It should be noted that different parts of the world use data licensing terms differently. In the US, works in the “public domain” are works are not covered by intellectual property rights, such as copyright. The copyright mig
All parts of North Carolina will benefit from open data legislation. FOR THE BETTER PART OF TWO DECADES, I’VE WORKED TO OPEN UP NORTH CAROLINA’S DATA. I’ve been a public servant at Durham Public Schools and the Department of Energy. I have been an onsite consultant for the Cities of Raleigh, Durham as well as the Towns of Cary and Chapel Hill. I’ve been on teams serving state agencies and local governments. I’ve witnessed dozens of open data projects both locally and abroad. All of these projects share crucial steps and goals in common. First, by transforming public documents from disconnected PDFs into machine-readable data, by applying the right open formats, we can liberate public information from the repositories where it used to require manual review. Insights become instant. Second, by publishing machine-readable data compilations online, for everyone to use, we can crowdsource those insights. Citizens and companies and the media can scrutinize. Even better, when a government age