Public agencies are under pressure to create new capabilities to open government data. A common assumption when opening government data is that simply supplying more data freely and in more formats will lead to more use. In turn, that use will lead to value creation and will motivate government to make the necessary changes to continue opening more data.
But, we know from experience that supplying more and more data does not necessarily produce the anticipated results.
The Center for Technology in Government (CTG, University at Albany, New York) has a white paper, The Dynamics of Opening Government Data, based on findings from a year-long research project, to help organizations better understand the value generated through opening government data. This presents an approach to analyze and model open data initiatives based on two key ideas: context and dynamics.
Agencies should consider these recommendations:
- Release government data that are relevant to both agency performance and the public interest.
- Invest in strategies to estimate how different stakeholders will use the data.
- Devise data management practices that improve context in order to ‘future-proof’ data resources.
- Think about sustainability for long term value creation.
The CTG research team looked at two active open data initiatives from the city level, but the lessons learned can be applied at any level of government. The first is the release of restaurant inspection data in New York City and the second is the release of street construction projects data in the City of Edmonton in Alberta, Canada.
Through the case descriptions and system dynamics modeling, we explored how stakeholders (such as app developers, third-party information suppliers) and their patterns of interaction with government agencies change over time as a result of opening data. We also looked at how citizen demand and data management practices and policies change as well.
CTG plans to continue applying and refining our approach through additional partnerships with governments and researchers interested in maximizing the value of their open data initiatives. We welcome new partners as well as your feedback!