It’s time for open data on open data

Recent conversations I’ve had with municipal executives managing open data programs indicate that traction around open data platform usage isn’t meeting their personal expectations.

The looming fear for some is that, as more and more resources are allocated for open data initiatives, there is going be more of a need to justify the return on investment. If these efforts aren’t meeting that return, the best case scenario is that they’ll receive less funding or simply stagnate as a priority, especially when there are more immediate, pressing IT issues senior-level executives face.

In some cases, some are already asking how to frame the justification.

Two questions to ask if your platform isn’t getting the usage traction you expect:

  • Is it the data platform’s user interface/experience and general product design?
  • Are you effectively developing holistic open data communications strategies to communicate the availability?

The first question is the most important, because without an analytical understanding of usage, the answer to the second is moot.

The appropriate, “open” solution is for governments is to start publicly releasing analytics data on their open data platforms. Given that “open by default” is ingrained in the culture of the open data community, this should be a no-brainer and easy goal to accomplish.

If the numbers are dismal, we can look for the reasons why together and address this as a community.

Let’s start sharing open data platform analytics.

Let’s get this right together.

Luke Fretwell is the founder of the civic innovation and technology blog GovFresh. He advises civic leaders and businesses on how to best leverage digital strategies to create more effective, collaborative governments. He has written about government IT for Federal Computer Week, NextGov, FedScoop, StateScoop and FierceGovernment, and has been referenced by the Washington Post and Fast Company on civic technology issues. He has worked with a number of government-focused companies and media, including CivicActions, NuCivic and FedScoop and has been involved in broad-focused community efforts, such as GovPress, CityCamp, CivicMeet, Agile Government Leadership and Open Source for America. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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