The Open Data Roadmap: Borrowing from the Pioneers

Recently I had the pleasure of working with +Denis Parfenov and his team on crafting the Open Government Action Plan for Ireland. This weekend, Denis shared with his open data colleagues around the world the draft that Ireland would be putting forth and asked for feedback.
I thought back to 2012 when I was just starting on the Open Raleigh website. Certainly the roots were there. I had the benefit of +Gail M. Roper and her existing work on building an Open Raleigh Program. I also had the benefit of Raleigh City Council's Open Data Resolution championed by +Bonner Gaylord. When I arrived I got my city laptop, a desk and some advice on how to approach building the program. Ultimately, it felt a little like looking at a white sheet of paper and thinking to myself "now what".

I was fortunate in that Francis Maude had recently published "Unleash the Potential". This white paper spelled out the open data program for the UK. In the document was the following:

A vision statement
A strategy
A description of the desired outcomes
A comprehensive list of concrete deliverables
A time table
Minister Maude also described the relationship of the government to open government data:

Data is the 21st century’s new raw material. Its value is in holding governments to account; in driving choice and improvements in public services; and in inspiring innovation and enterprise that spurs social and economic growth.
In the last 20 years the world has opened up and citizens across the globe are proclaiming their right to data; this White Paper sets out how we intend to use that energy to unlock the potential of Open Data and for the first time the technology exists to make the demand for greater openness irresistible. We are at the start of a global movement towards transparency and the UK is leading the world in making data more freely available. We are currently co-chairing the Open Government Partnership of 55 governments; the theme of our chairmanship is ‘Transparency Drives Prosperity’ demonstrating the value of open governance to economic growth, inclusive development and improved citizen engagement and empowerment.
This was translated by Raleigh into our government's relationship to our data is one of "data as infrastructure" and "data as a strategic asset".

This is one of the primary reasons Open Raleigh has been so successful. Executive buy-in was critical and so was the confidence of the Raleigh community in having access to the data.

Open Raleigh is not aligned with any political agenda and is not centrally controlled. All decisions are made by committee and submitted for approval by people other than those that run the open data program. Citizens are invited and participate in policy and in what data sets are released.

In Raleigh's Vision Paper on Open Data, several principles were laid out to ensure an inclusive policy would emerge and work as a living document, adjusting to meet the rapidly changing technology and increased access to data.

I strongly urge Ireland's very capable and well-intentioned open data leaders to consider this approach and incorporate similar language into Ireland's OGP recommendation.


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