December 12, 2016 Natalia Mazotte

Natália Mazotte leads the School of Data in Brazil and is co-director of Genero e Número, a data-driven magazine focused on gender issues.

At IODC in 2015, capacity building was already taken as a key aspect to move forward the open data agenda. We became better at understanding that to be useful, data doesn’t need only to be available, but also accessible and comprehensive for all. In the capacity building Action session this year, we identified some points in which we have advanced, but we also raised some questions to help to guide the proposals to the next edition of the conference.

There is a need to create learning opportunities with a community-centred approach, which goes beyond creating capacity in specific spaces at governments, private sector, and the organized civil society. How can we address open data literacy as a means to engaging citizens more autonomously in tackling communities’ challenges? How can organizations move beyond building capacity for general data literacy skills, and start using problem-specific approaches to come up with solutions that tackle real issues?

The work needed to be done includes capacity building for data collection, which is relevant for solving both hyper-local problems and working in resource-constrained environments. Communities need to take ownership of their own data to better understand – and advocate for – the solutions to their problems. What are the resources/examples available in this field? How do we get greater representation and reach people difficult to reach such as from low-tech communities?

There is increasing collaboration across different regions and organizations, such as School of Data, ODI, Open Data Alliance, and more, who have started formalizing methodologies and mapping best practices. But more partnerships and learning exchanges must be encouraged, not only in the IODC context. Why not to create a coalition to map collaboratively the technical capabilities and relevant skills among these actors, as well as the available methodologies to work with open data initiatives? The findings could be shared in an online platform where each organization also update the rest of the network about its last achievements in the field of data literacy.

IODC is an event where some of the most active and inspiring people from the open data movement get together to build collective action, so it is an extremely opportune moment for mapping their open data-related problems and their data skills gap.

Why not to prepare a survey to be answered early across key open data conferences in order to  subsidize capacity building discussions? This year, in the closing session of the IODC, the Data Literacy anchors released a survey to understand the challenges and data skills gap among the open data community. Unfortunately we haven’t received enough responses to arrive at solid conclusions yet, but a permanent working group could take advantage of existing regional conferences to apply some surveys directly in contact with the participants, resulting in a more robust data source to understand the open data movement skills gaps and needs.

For the next edition of IODC in Argentina in 2018, we have to revisit these takeaways beforehand and plan the actions to pursue effective answers for all the current challenges we have recognized in the capacity building area.


Featured cover photo by James Pond


November 8, 2016 Silvana Fumega

contribSilvana Fumega is originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina. She holds a PhD (University of Tasmania, Australia); her thesis is focused on international NGOs working with Open Government Data and Freedom of Information policies. She also holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand) and a degree in Political Science from the University of Buenos Aires (Argentina). She also participated of the Research Programme Chevening Hansard (United Kingdom). She has served as a consultant for several international organizations, governments and civil society groups 

Two years ago we –quite impressed– highlighted the fast progress of the open data agenda in Latin America [1]. Today, a bit less surprised, we keep reflecting on the role of many actors from the region in the global open data agenda.

. Recuento de algunas discusiones regionales y globales

Within the framework of the 4th International Open Data Conference, Latin American actors shared some of the initiatives that have been implemented in the region. From research to development of applications in the civic technology sphere, including data journalism, they’ve had their chance during the conference and its many pre-events. In this context, during the first conference day’s afternoon, we had a round table with some of the actors in the region, along with some actors from the Caribbean, to discuss about what’s going on in Latin America. A –quite reduced– list of some of the highlighted topics of this session and the Conference is included below:

    • Latin America has a lot to offer to the open data agenda. These advances are not exemplified anymore as developing countries that try to follow the agenda of first world countries, but as actors with a weight of their own that contribute equally to the dialogue. Perhaps the fact that Argentina will organize the next IODC exemplifies this quite well.

Recuento de algunas discusiones regionales y globales

  • At the Latin America and Caribbean regional talk at IODC16 the work of civil society actors was addressed. These actors are in a very active state in the data release processes and, more comprehensibly, in the promotion of the agenda. In any case, infrastructure in management and public data release terms is still quite precarious in most countries of the region. There is still a long way ahead in this sense.
  • Despite the advances and the dialogue, it is also necessary to identify obstacles and pending tasks such as the data infrastructure. Even though the agenda has experienced strong developments, cultural change around opening (not only data but the government in general) still means a challenge in the region. Cultural change, yet functioning, is still far from becoming a reality in most countries.
  • In order to overcome the obstacles it is a sine qua non condition to start thinking on long-term policies (State polities) and not in short-term projects. The logic of fast wins conspires against the development and the possibility of scaling these policies in the region.
  • Similarly, one of the points that were repeated most often during the conference –and transcended at regional level– was the necessity of focusing on the problems of the different sectors. It is necessary to start thinking about opening policies at sectoral level, responding to the specific problems of public policy implementation in each area and collaborating with the construction of a community of intermediaries who collaborate and add value to these data. We must invest in the construction of a community of users and intermediaries.
  • Regarding the previous point, we need actors who work on the open data agenda to understand, just like other communities did, that this agenda is not an end itself, but a means to achieve/solve other problems.
  • It is also crucial to highlight that language unity, in many contexts, has collaborated along with the leadership of some actors to the fluid dialogue between different actors from the region. Seeing the professional bonds that have turned into personal in many cases, the dialogue and exchange of experiences and reflections is very fluid and doesn’t stop surprising actors from other latitudes. This exchange should be extended to other actors such as those living in the Caribbean. The dialogue between Latin American and Caribbean actors is not yet as fluid as some would think. Hence we need an additional effort to try to connect with these actors and empower the agenda in both regions, which is perceived by many as one only region.
  • This parity is possible due to the capacities that have been developed in the region and that allow the advancement of the agenda. This generation of capacities is a point that needs all the support –through the articulation of actors and resources– to keep on generating actors and initiatives within the region that can continue the advances of this agenda.

To close this blog post I would like to point out something that has generated a lot of discussion (very enriching, though) and numerous tweets: the “open washing” idea.

Even though this point should have its own post (we’ll see if time and those pending articles permit), it is worth mentioning that the regional and global open data communities have started to lose innocence –which has taken us at times to an incommensurate enthusiasm and optimism– in order to start questioning some policies and initiatives that, sometimes, seemed more focused on improving the image of certain actors that on achieving an actual opening of a sector or government. This looked like a sign of maturity from many of the involved actors in the promotion of the agenda and this should be celebrated. From now on we still need to see how the agenda will develop in Latin America and the rest of the world and how, all together, we can get to minimize the negative consequences of this “open washing” in the cases where it is identified. At a personal level, I applaud this advance.

[1] 2014: http://silvanafumega.blogspot.com.ar/2014/10/esta-vez-las-noticias-han-llegado.html 2015: http://silvanafumega.blogspot.com.ar/2015/09/los-desafios-de-la-maduracion.html

[2] More info: EN: http://opendatacon.org/increasing-demand-measugin/ ES: http://opendatacon.org/2431/?lang=es


This blog provides information on the Measuring and Increasing Impact Action Session, which will be held on Friday October 7, 2016 at IODC in Room E. Further information on the session can be found here.

Lord Kelvin’s famous quote “If you can not measure it, you can not improve it” equally applies to open data. Without more evidence of how open data contributes to meeting users’ needs and addressing societal challenges, efforts and policies toward releasing and using more data may be misinformed and based upon untested assumptions.

When done well, assessments, metrics, and audits can guide both (local) data providers and users to understand, reflect upon, and change how open data is designed. What we measure and how we measure is therefore decisive to advance open data.

Back in 2014, the Web Foundation and the GovLab at NYU brought together open data assessment experts from Open Knowledge, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, United Nations, Canada’s International Development Research Centre, and elsewhere to explore the development of common methods and frameworks for the study of open data. It resulted in a draft template or framework for measuring open data. Despite the increased awareness for more evidence-based open data approaches, since 2014 open data assessment methods have only advanced slowly. At the same time, governments publish more of their data openly, and more civil society groups, civil servants, and entrepreneurs employ open data to manifold ends: the broader public may detect environmental issues and advocate for policy changes, neighbourhood projects employ data to enable marginalized communities to participate in urban planning, public institutions may enhance their information exchange, and entrepreneurs embed open data in new business models.

In 2015, the International Open Data Conference roadmap made the following recommendations on how to improve the way we assess and measure open data.

  1. Reviewing and refining the Common Assessment Methods for Open Data framework. This framework lays out four areas of inquiry: context of open data, the data published, use practices and users, as well as the impact of opening data.
  2. Developing a catalogue of assessment methods to monitor progress against the International Open Data Charter (based on the Common Assessment Methods for Open Data).
  3. Networking researchers to exchange common methods and metrics. This helps to build methodologies that are reproducible and increase credibility and impact of research.
  4. Developing sectoral assessments.

In short, the IODC called for refining our assessment criteria and metrics by connecting researchers, and applying the assessments to specific areas. It is hard to tell how much progress has been made in answering these recommendations, but there is a sense among researchers and practitioners that the first two goals are yet to be fully addressed.

Instead we have seen various disparate, yet well meaning, efforts to enhance the understanding of the release and impact of open data. A working group was created to measure progress on the International Open Data Charter, which provides governments with principles for implementing open data policies. While this working group compiled a list of studies and their methodologies, it did not (yet) deepen the common framework of definitions and criteria to assess and measure the implementation of the Charter.

In addition, there is an increase of sector- and case-specific studies that are often more descriptive and context specific in nature, yet do contribute to the need for examples that illustrate the value proposition for open data.

As such, there seems to be a disconnect between top-level frameworks and on-the-ground research, preventing the sharing of common methods and distilling replicable experiences about what works and what does not.

How to proceed and what to prioritize will be the core focus of the “Action Track: Measurement” at IODC 2016. The role of research for (scaling) open data practice and policy and how to develop a common open data research infrastructure will also be discussed at various workshops during the Open Data Research Summit, and the findings will be shared during the Action Track.


In particular, the Action Track will seek to focus on:

  • Demand and use: Specifically, whether and how to study more the demand for and use of open data—including user needs and data life cycle analysis (as opposed to being mainly focused on the data supply or capturing evidence of impact), given the nascent nature of many initiatives around the world. And how to identify how various variables including local context, data supply, types of users, and impact relate to each other, instead of regarding them as separate. To be more deductive, explanatory, and generate insights that are operational (for instance, with regard to what data sets to release) there may be a need to expand the area of demand and use case studies (such as org).
  • Informing supply and infrastructure: How to develop deeper collaboration between researchers and domain experts to help identify “key data” and inform the government data infrastructure needed to provide them. Principle 1 of the International Open Data Charter states that governments should provide key data open by default, yet the questions remains in how to identify “key” data (e.g., would that mean data relevant to society at large?). Which governments (and other public institutions) should be expected to provide key data and which information do we need to better understand government’s role in providing key data? How can we evaluate progress around publishing these data coherently if countries organize the capture, collection, and publication of this data differently?
  • Networking research and researchers: How to develop more and better exchange among the research community to identify gaps in knowledge, to develop common research methods and frameworks and to learn from each other? Possible topics to consider and evaluate include collaborative platforms to share findings (such as org), expert networks (such as https://networkofinnovators.org/), implementing governance for collaboration, dedicated funding, research symposia (such as ODRS), and interdisciplinary research projects.


Make the most of this Action Track: Your input is needed

To maximize outcomes, the Measurement Action Area will catalyze input from conversations prior to the IODC. Researchers who want to shape the future agenda of open data research are highly encouraged to participate and discuss in following channels:

1) The Measurement and Increasing Impact Action Session, which will take place on Friday October 7, 2016 at IODC in Room E (more details here).

2) The Open Data Research Symposium, which is further outlined below. Feel free to follow this event on Twitter with the hashtag #ODRS16.


The Open Data Research Symposium

The Measurement and Increasing Impact Action Session will be complemented by the second Open Data Research Symposium (#ODRS16), held prior to the International Open Data Conference on October 5, 2016 from 9:00am to 5:00pm (CEST) in Madrid, Spain (view map here for exact location). Researchers interested in the Measurement and Increasing Impact Action Session are encouraged to participate in the Open Data Research Symposium.

The symposium offers open data researchers an opportunity to reflect critically on the findings of their completed research and to formulate the open data research agenda.

Special attention is paid to the question how we can increase our understanding of open data’s use and impacts. View the list of selected papers here and the tentative conference program here.

Interested researchers may register here. Please note that registration is mandatory for participation.


Cover photo by Pepe Nero


September 7, 2016 Fiona Smith

This blog provides information on the Capacity Building Action Session, which will be held at the 4th International Data Conference (IODC) on Friday October 7, 2016 from 08:45 – 09:45 (CEST) in Room D. Further information on the session can be found here.

As the open data community gets ready to converge in Madrid, Spain for IODC 2016, it is a good time to reflect on how much progress we have made as a movement—and how far away we are from realizing the full potential of open data to promote transparency and accountability, drive economic growth, improve lives, and create more responsive services. Building capacity across both supply and demand sides is essential for realizing this potential.

At the last edition of IODC, which was held in Ottawa, Canada in May 2015 (see last year’s agenda here), we came away with a list of ambitious recommendations, fuelled by a week of inspiring presentations, challenging discussions, and intensive networking. As stated in the IODC Roadmap, participants from civic tech groups, governments, developers, startups, researcher organizations, and national statistical offices (to name a few) recommended:

Government open data leaders need increased opportunities for networking and peer-learning. Models are needed to support private sector and civil society open data champions in working to unlock the economic and social potential of open data. Work is needed to identify and embed core competencies for working with open data within existing organizational training, formal education, and informal learning programs.

But how has open data “capacity for all” evolved since then? How far have we come towards achieving what we set out to do in the Roadmap?

There are many activities and outcomes that have emerged since the last edition of IODC to congratulate ourselves on. Some of my personal highlights include:

  1. Peer networks on the rise: following last year’s recommendation, we are witnessing the growth of peer learning networks for government leaders, such as the Open Data Leaders Network, ODECA, and OGP Working Groups. The forums provide an invaluable space for learning and professional development stretching across north-south divides.
  2. Data collaboratives: such as the dLab in Tanzania, OD4D Africa hub, the Web Foundation’s Open Data Labs, and Labora in Mexico are convening partners from private sector, civil society, and the public sector to promote innovation, strengthen feedback loops between data producers and users, while supporting local expertise.
  3. Sector-specific initiatives: such as GODAN Action, which is building capacity among journalists and policymakers towards the shared goal of increasing farmers’ yields, improving nutrition for consumers, and informing evidence-based policy making. Knowing how data skills can contribute towards solving a specific problem helps to motivate learners and enhance outcomes.
  4. Data for SDGs: the Sustainable Development Goals, launched in September 2015, put the capacity needs of national statistical offices firmly on the map, while marshalling political will towards investing in data capacity—especially in low and middle income contexts. I look forward to building on this momentum at IODC 2016.
  5. Building a global resource centre: the International Open Data Charter and the Open Data for Development Network (OD4D) are contributing a body of practical resource guides and data sector packages to help translate open data policy commitments into successful implementation and impact.

However, there is still a long way to go in building capacities across the board to understand, analyze, publish, use, and build with open data. As highlighted by the Open Data Barometer 2015, persistent gaps around implementation are often less to do with a shortage of technical capability, and more to do with weaknesses around “soft skills” like leadership, strategy, and engagement.

Whether one is a service user, business owner, researcher, or civil servant, it is very challenging to escape the fact that today’s society is becoming increasingly “datafied”. This inescapable reality necessitates some level of data literacy. What data literacy looks like can be highly contextually dependent. The skills required by a policymaker seeking to design an evidence-based immunization program might be very different to the skills required by an app developer seeking to create a real-time air pollution monitor, or a journalist seeking to scrutinize public spending data. But these different skills all need to interact to create value out of open data.

Finally, we need to be conscious of emerging global inequalities in access to data, resourcing for open data initiatives, and uneven opportunities for skills development. All of these factors should shape how we design and prioritize investments in open data capacity building initiatives. As the UN pointed out last year, such gaps could create “a whole new inequality frontier” if allowed to persist.

Looking towards IODC 2016

At IODC 2016 I’d love to see conversations around what a shared open data competency framework might look like, building on the experience of governments, educational institutions and organizations (see ODI’s pilot learning framework here). I’m hoping to learn much more about creative methods for developing capacity from around the world (such as Poplus), and approaches towards evaluating the impacts of these methods. I’m also hoping to have some critical and frank conversations about how we, as a global community, can ensure no one is left behind in the emerging data/digital divide, and what investments are required to sustain capacity building efforts.

These are just some of my thoughts with regards to what I hope to discuss and explore during the Capacity Building Action Session, but I’d love to know more about what other’s priorities and expectations are for this Action Area. Feel free to tweet your thoughts to @opendatacon using the #IODC16 and #ODIHQ hashtags. Alternatively, you are welcome to tweet or e-mail me directly at @fiona_ph_smith or fiona.smith@theodi.org.

In addition to attending the Capacity Building Action Session, the following two sessions may also be of interest with regards to exploring issues related to this Action Area:


Cover photo by Steve Halama


As the countdown to the 4th International Data Conference draws closer and closer to a close, thinking about the progress and challenges we have faced since the 2015 IODC becomes increasingly important. How far have we come in the year and a half since Ottawa? Have we moved forward in the ways we envisioned?Who is engaging, and who needs to be engaged to create open data progress? What key conversations do we need to have to realize global goals and local impact? What is next for the open data community?

After the 3rd IODC, which was held in Ottawa, Canada last May, a conference report was put together that worked to highlight all of the key outcomes of the event. A particularly pertinent section of the report debriefed on last year’s five Action Areas. Though the Action Areas have changed and grown slightly since last year, they are still very much a central force that drives IODC and the Roadmap.

The Action Areas act as an important connection between broad community dialogues, the discussions at the IODC pre-events, the conference, and the final report that will be developed. To engage directly with these dialogues, we invite you to attend the Action Sessions on the morning of Friday, October 7.

For this year’s event there are 8 Action Areas:

  1. The Charter
  2. Standards
  3. Capacity Building
  4. Innovation: Private Sector
  5. Innovation: Cities
  6. Measurement
  7. Global Goals, Country Impact
  8. Regional Agendas

As we get ready to meet, learn, and share at IODC16, we are pleased to introduce a blog series made up of content developed by the Action Anchors teams. Titled, “Roadmap in Motion: The Action Areas Blog Series”, it will include approximately 2 blog entries from each Action Area. The first will come before IODC16; it will reflect on the outcomes of IODC15, look at where we have come in the 17 months between the two events, and discuss what is expected and/or anticipated to come from each Action Area at IODC16.

A second post from each Action Area will come shortly after IODC16, which will provide a brief summary of the ideas, discussions, and commitments shared within each Action Area. It will provide the basis for the next conference report: a means to capture and share key commitments, cases, and progress.

We are also pleased to introduce the Roadmap Coordinators and authors: Civica.Digital. Their vision for engaging with the open data community and for advancing important dialogues will provide an important frame for the Open Data Roadmap moving forward.

We would also like to thank all of the organizations and groups that submitted Action proposals. These proposals have helped to shape and inform the upcoming dialogues of the conference, feed into pre-events, and engage in key commitments.

We look forward to sharing these posts with you and welcome your feedback and comments. Please feel free to communicate with us!


Cover photo by Joshua K. Jackson

June 8, 2015 IODC

A guest post from Lynne McAvoy.

At the 3rd International Open Data Conference 2015 (#iodc15), moderator José Alonso of the World Wide Web Foundation, initiated the discussion on global data standards with a panel of open data supporters, including Caroline Burle, World Wide Web Consortium’s Brazil office, Hudson Hollister, Data Transparency Coalition, Chris Taggart, OpenCorporates, Sarah Telford, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), with guest, Michael Cañares, from Step Up Consulting in the Philippines.

When asked what the phrase “global data standard” meant to the panelists, we heard that there are different areas in which standards are required. A global data standard would ensure a common semantic understanding across governments and countries, allowing us to effectively extract and use shared data, while improving data quality. Without such a standard, there is no basis for comparison of various social indicators, from government financial transactions through to fair contracting practices or environmental assessments.  Chris Taggart felt that the Open Contracting Data Standard is a first step in the right direction; by increasing clarity in the procurement process, the operational burden is reduced. Sarah Telford highlighted the importance of finding ways to communicate across countries, focusing on the importance of lightweight programs such as Humanitarian Exchange Language (HEL) to ISO standards, which provide stable, internationally agreed-upon guidance. Caroline Burle felt that a global data standard should allow the use and sharing of data and that, most critically, it enables people to use the Web from anywhere.

Drivers for data standard creation include cultural change and a top-down interest. In Jakarta, there are two kinds of response: for agencies lacking infrastructure, data standards provide a framework from which they can begin development; agencies with existing infrastructure can be resistant to onboard new standards, unless it can be shown how the new standard will increase efficiency or provide a quick solution to an existing pain point. Chris Taggart mentioned that such important tools as the Open Data Contracting Standard and the Legal Entity Identifierare critical as we move forward, and are a benefit to different levels of government in defining their data. An example of this is the location code PA: does this refer to Panama or Philadelphia? Sarah Telford stressed that expectations have changed. Previous data collection was done in Excel, using a cut and paste approach. Data collection methods must be nimble, and the time required to understand and use standards must be short. Caroline Burle has been promoting open data standards in Brazil since 2008, and has witnessed the rapid release of  both open data and its metadata.

According to the panel, the best data standard models that have emerged over the past few years are those which exploit top-down  and bottom-up engagement, which increase the chances of adoption. A lack of data awareness and knowledge is seen as a challenge in Jakarta, where the first draft of a metadata standard, based on the World Wide Web Consortium’s Data Catalog Vocabulary (DCAT), was edited beyond recognition because of language issues. By moving away from the standardized terminology, the agency involved impacted the potential for interoperability and data sharing. The risk is that one agency can say “yay” or “nay” to the proposed model. We must engage users and encourage them to modify their behaviour when collecting, describing, and using data. Data standard models that work are led by knowledgeable people who have the time to dedicate to doing it right. Chris Taggart mentioned that there are several barriers to using data standard models: projects close, we have to pay for ISO standards, examples provided in documentation often contain errors. This leads to the idea that standards are there, but only available to some. What is needed is inclusiveness and iteration. He feels that “Open access is a fundamental requirement to what we are trying to accomplish, and the legacy approach will not work”. Sarah Telford stated that rapidly-needed information requires a more nimble approach. The Humanitarian Exchange Language was born of necessity, but the reason it has been taken up so quickly is because a large organization, UN OCHA, is at the helm to promote it. “What makes a standard is that people adopt it and use it”.

When asked about a business model for maintaining a high-quality data standard, the panel agreed that it is not just about the money. Organizations need to change their culture and behaviours around data. Legacy systems and proprietary software are being put aside as we move to open data standards and open access tools, more nimble and agile models for handling data. The role of the Chief Information Officer is changing to include the responsibility of Chief Data Officer, hopefully because organizations are recognizing the importance of having leadership in changing the information and data management culture.

April 24, 2015 IODC1
This is an action area being developed as part of the IODC Roadmap project. >>View other action areas.

The challenge

actionIcon-08 250When it comes to open data, nobody should be left behind. While some countries and cities possess the technical capability, relevant skills and social capital to implement open data initiatives quickly and easily, in other parts of the world capacity is constrained, and resources scarce. It is incumbent upon those who are already advanced in the world of open data to support those hoping to take advantage of data’s potential benefits. It is also important to avoid a one-size-fits-all approach to capacity building: identifying ‘best fit’ strategies for different countries, contexts and domains.

Thinking about the open data ecosystem in terms of both supply and demand, there are two largely separate audiences to be addressed by capacity building initiatives. On the supply side are governments, who might need support in opening up their own data, incorporating it into their own workflows, and using it internally. On the other, are what could be called “data intermediaries” and users – civil society, and journalists who need the skills to be able to understand how to use the data in their work, and make those results accessible to the public. Only by supporting both sides of the ecosystem can we ensure that open data lives up to its full potential.

By supporting global and local programs for data literacy, capacity building, and public service training, civil society organizations, governments (national and sub-national), the private sector, media and citizens can help to ensure that open data can have a positive impact on the lives of all people, regardless of where they live.


The following draft actions were developed through sessions at IODC15. You are invited to share your feedback on these actions using the comments box below. A final roadmap of actions will be published in mid-2015.

Key action: An Open Data Competency Map

In order to support greater co-ordination of capacity building efforts, and to help organisations embed open data skills within their own organisational development, an Open Data Competency Map will be developed by the OGP Open Data Working Group Capacity Building sub-group. It will present a comprehensive (though not exhaustive) map of the different clusters of skills, knoweldge and abilities required to successfully implement open data initiatives.

Additional action: Open Data Resource Catalogue

The Open Data Research Catalogue will provide in depth descriptions on the use, breath, scope, advantages and disadvantages of existing resources for open data implementation and use.

Additional action: Developing formal data science and open data education

We need schools, colleges and Universities to develop and provide high-quality formal courses and networked learning opportunities that focus on both data science skills, and upon open data issues. These can develop open data capacity through a range of different teaching and learning styles, addressing data skills in general, and building domain specific skills. They can enable the accreditation of open data skills.

Support is needed for the exchange of learning between course designers, and to support effective use of Open Educational Resources (OER) as part of course development.

Additional action: Building capacity, sector by sector

From agriculture to extractives, specific sectors face their own open data opportunities and challenges. Developing and adapting learning opportunities to specific sectors provides an opportunity for people to learn general open data skills in the context of applied problem solving around the issues they work on day-to-day.

Action anchors

Action anchors are taking a lead on shaping the conversation in the run up to the conference, and facilitating the conference session. They will be blogging about the key issues to be address, and existing initiatives that respond to the challenges in this area.

Blog posts

  • Building capacities for all: Challenges & Opportunities May 30, 2015 - A guest post by Sherwin Ona on Capacity Building action sessions.  The need to build capacities was one of the recurring themes in IODC 2015. The discussions on this topic have unpacked a plethora of challenges.  Using a developing country perspective, here are some of the issues that can be used to frame capacity building efforts. […]
  • Should we continue running open data training? May 28, 2015 - A guest post by Michael Canares based on the paper “Enhancing Citizen Engagement with Open Government Data”. As an educator and an adult learning facilitator for more than a decade, this question has been bugging me since I started working as a researcher on open data.  The ODDC research projects highlighted the fact that if […]
  • We need an Open Data Competency Map! May 14, 2015 - A guest post from Marcio Vasconcelos, Marcio is Chief of Technology for Social Change at Avina Foundation, Open Data Latin America Initiative coordinator at Avina and civil society representative for Latin America on the OGP Open Data Working Group. In my opinion, the problem statement formulated for International Open Data Conference action area “Capacity Building for All” […]
  • Capacity building for all May 13, 2015 - A guest post from the Capacity Building action leads, inviting input into a survey of capacity building need. Since the wake of open data, capacity building has been at the core of the challenges that must be met so as to reap the value and benefits that reusable information can bring for all. Supply From […]
  • Building Open Data Capacity through e-Skills May 12, 2015 - A guest post by Zoran Mitrovic for the Capacity Building Action Track. The effective delivery and beneficial use of open data is inevitably dependent on ICT skills: ‘e-skills’. Yet e-skills – the ability to develop and/or use ICT to adequately participate in an increasingly technology-dominated world – are in a very short supply in developing […]


Proposals for addressing this challenge will be developed over the course of IODC15, and shared here shortly afterwards.

April 24, 2015 IODC0
This is an action area being developed as part of the IODC Roadmap project. >>View other action areas.

The challenge

actionIcon-07 250While the practice of open data is becoming widespread and the potential impacts and benefits of open data are frequently discussed, evidence on the actual release, use and impact of open data remains limited and fragmented. To tackle this evidence gap, a range of different efforts have emerged to measure the various aspects of open data, yet little coordination exists among them.

We need to be able to compare and evaluate the outcomes of open data initiatives and the impact of open data on key issues such as the effectiveness of government spending, how governments perform their programs, and success rates of public initiatives, and the fight against corruption, amongst others. Governments, developers, researchers and civil society are continuously seeking for both quantitative and qualitative evidence that can be used to inform analysis, benchmark performance, and improve practice. For that to be possible a deeper understanding of the whole value chain of open data is required.

Clear, rigorous and relevant approaches to measuring progress towards open data, including readiness, implementation, use and impacts, are vitally important to drive continued improvement in practice. Common and global measurement methods are needed that can shed light on the ways in which open data can better deliver its economic and social change promise. That in turns requires collaboration among existing and emerging studies and organizations, securing the best use of available resources to deliver a set of relevant questions and methods for building an useful global evidence base.


The following draft actions were developed through sessions at IODC15. You are invited to share your feedback on these actions using the comments box below. A final roadmap of actions will be published in mid-2015.

Key action: Developing an open data assessment roadmap

Partners will come together to create a map of existing studies and metrics, their methodologies, targets and audiences to identify areas of collaboration, areas of conflict and possible gaps and key and relevant metrics to focus on.

Additional action: Refining the common assessment methods for open data

The Common Assessment Methods for Open Data report provides an overview framework for coordination and sharing between open data measurement projects. Over the coming year, partners will work together to update, extended and further develop the current draft Framework – including a library of definition, taxonomies, metrics and guidance materials on how to apply and contextualize them. This will allow it can be used as a common basis to design new measurement instruments and refine existing ones. Anyone planning an open data assessment project is invited to draw upon the Common Assessment Method Framework, and to get involved in shaping it future.

Get involvedMore information | Find out about the draft Common Assessment Methods framework

Additional action: Networking researchers

Researchers working on open data measurement need spaces to network and share ideas. Building on the mailing list created following the 2014 Common Assessment Methods workshop, an ongoing space for networking will be created, and opportunities identified to gather researchers together for more in-depth discussions on open data measurement.

Get involvedMore information | Join the mailing list

Additional action: Develop domain specific assessments: starting with national statistics

National statistical offices play a central role in capturing data to support sustainable development. They provide a key official source of national data, therefore, have a special obligation to adopt and implement open data policies.

Open data policies are easy to announce but hard to implement. How open are official statistics? To assess the performance of national statistical offices a comprehensive measure of their adherence to open data standards is needed. Open Data Watch will build upon their existing pilot to scale up such a measurement.

Get involvedMore information | Find out more about the open data inventory

Action anchors

Action anchors are taking a lead on shaping the conversation in the run up to the conference, and facilitating the conference session. They will be blogging about the key issues to be address, and existing initiatives that respond to the challenges in this area.

Blog posts

  • How entrepreneurs and civil society organizations are collaboratively mapping open data use May 29, 2015 - A guest post from Joel Gurin & Laura Manley of the Center for Open Data Enterprise Yesterday, the Center for Open Data Enterprise launched the Open Data Impact Map as a project of the OD4D network. The Map is a “big tent” project, designed to pull together examples of all kinds of open data use cases […]
  • Developing User-Centered Methods for Measuring the Value of Open Data May 11, 2015 - A guest post from Johanna Walker and Mark Frank Many existing approaches to open data measurement start from assessing ideal properties of datasets. But there is little evidence these properties capture the key things that data users need. Through an Open Data for Development grant from the Open Government Partnership Open Data Working Group, we’ve […]
  • The benefits and challenges of measuring open data May 8, 2015 - A guest blog post from Carlos Iglesias of the World Wide Web Foundation. Open data holds the potential to build a prosperous, socially just world with more transparent, accountable, participatory and efficient gGovernments. Governments across the world are increasingly adopting open data policies and practices. From national portals, to municipal open data initiatives and sector­ […]


Proposals for addressing this challenge will be developed over the course of IODC15, and shared here shortly afterwards.

April 24, 2015 IODC0
This is an action area being developed as part of the IODC Roadmap project. >>View other action areas.

The challenge

actionIcon-06 250While the potential social impacts of open data are undeniable, it is important to recall that open data may also enable substantial economic growth and prosperity. Estimates have put the annual potential economic value of open data as high as $3-5 trillion – and with the benefits shared between data-driven businesses themselves and the end-users of the services provided by those businesses.

However the route for achieving these levels of benefit on a global scale is not clearly understood. Without a good understanding, policies and interventions cannot be designed to maximise and accelerate the achievement of the benefits. There are already disparities not just between developed countries and developing countries but also within regions. The WISE/Demos Europa study suggests that some EU countries would gain double the per-capita benefits of others because of structural and skills differences. Likewise, a few countries such as Kenya, Ghana, and Senegal are already outpacing other African countries in bringing data-driven applications to market and delivering benefits to the users of those services.

Moreover, some leading governments have moved past their initial approach of leaving open data exploitation to the market alone, and are now investing significant time and resources in working with businesses. This can be seen, for instance, in the current program of “business open data roundtables” by departments of the United States Government. Finally, some in developing countries have started to question the extent to which the release of their data will benefit other countries at the expense of their own.

Through this track, we hope to bring together innovators from different sectors and different parts of the world to share experience of what already works and what is still needed in terms of policies and supporting ecosystems. This is an important first step to fully and fairly realizing the economic potential of open data for the benefit of all people, including marginalized peoples, in all parts of the world.


The following draft actions were developed through sessions at IODC15. You are invited to share your feedback on these actions using the comments box below. A final roadmap of actions will be published in mid-2015.

Key action: Scaling equitable economic impact

Additional action: Developing the Open Data Impact Map

The Open Data Impact Map can support the identification of potential areas for economic growth from open data, and can enable research into the local factors that unlock open data’s economic promise. The Open Data Impact Map, and it’s network of regional supporters, will be further developed as part of the OD4D network, incorporating further in-depth impact case studies.

Get involvedMore information | Add your stories to the Open Data Impact map

Additional action: Open Data Charter Private Sector Working Group

The Private Sector Working Group of the Open Data Charter will secure substantial engagement from businesses in the Charter process.

Get involvedMore information | Get involved in the Open Data Charter Private Sector Working Group

Action anchors

Action anchors are taking a lead on shaping the conversation in the run up to the conference, and facilitating the conference session. They will be blogging about the key issues to be address, and existing initiatives that respond to the challenges in this area.

Blog posts

  • Public-private engagement: Moving beyond the app economy May 26, 2015 - A guest post from Joel Gurin of the Center for Open Data Enterprise On Friday May 29 at 10:30, Andrew Stott, Maurice McNaughton, and I will lead an Action Track session on realizing the economic value of open data. While open data can boost economic growth in many ways, including through good government, improved education, and […]
  • Making sense of US$3 trillion – Estimating the value of Open Data for Small Developing Economies May 26, 2015 - A guest post from Maurice McNaughton of the Caribbean Open Institute. No matter what source you subscribe to, the numbers are staggering, when one considers the potential economic value of open data.  The McKinsey Global Institute estimates approximately US$3 trillion value potential across 7 domains. The Warsar Institute for Economic Studies projects a contribution of €205 […]


Proposals for addressing this challenge will be developed over the course of IODC15, and shared here shortly afterwards.

April 24, 2015 IODC2
This is an action area being developed as part of the IODC Roadmap project. >>View other action areas.

The challenge

actionIcon-04 250Decision-makers and those that hold them to account, whether at local, national or global level, require access to usable, meaningful information that throws light on the problems they are seeking to solve. Finding this information often involves joining up data from a variety of sources.

In the past five years advocates of open data have had successes persuading both governments and others to open their data and today there are a now hundreds of public portals containing a huge variety of datasets. Yet many of these repositories are silos: containing similar data, yet in different formats, structures and standards.

One of the biggest barriers to joining up data is a lack of compatible standards. We are faced with different rules for access, different data formats, different data definitions, different quality guidelines, and different recommended codelists and reference data. Even where standards have emerged, or are emerging, such as for aid, contracting, extractives and budget data, there are many missed connections, and both data publishers and users can be left confused by the diversity of technical and policy approaches that each adopts.

Joining up data better requires finding the points of connection between different standards, adopting common building blocks, developing shared infrastructures, and creating tools to map data between formats and standards. This needs to be informed by clear user demand and needs, and supported by greater coordination between standardization groups.


The following draft actions were developed through sessions at IODC15. You are invited to share your feedback on these actions using the comments box below. A final roadmap of actions will be published in mid-2015.

Key action: Support sharing and collaboration between standardisation efforts

Standards come in many shapes and sizes, and cover everything from aid flows, to bus times and public toilet locations. Finding the points of connection between different thematic standards, between global and local standards, and between technical and policy processes of standardisation is crucial if open data is to be made interoperable: allowing, for example, apps from one location to be easily deployed in another, and making it possible to follow financial flows for accountability around the world.

Additional action: Joined Up Data Alliance

The Joined Up Data Alliance has launched as a coalition of open data standards setters, users and advocates who will collaborate on matters of mutual interest to the development and usage of data standards especially where we face supranational and cross-domain issues. The Alliance will identify shared challenges, and will collaborate on common approaches to address them.

Get involvedMore information | Get involved in the Joined Up Data Alliance

Additional action: Standards sharing sessions

Building on the Connecting Standards workshop at IODC 2015, which created a fascilitated space for discussion and knowledge exchange on existing data standards, and on gaps in need of common approaches, future open data events should include space for similar workshops, building on models of speed networking and peer-learning activities. The adoption of shared standards, and the creation of connections between them relies first and foremost on building connections between the people working with data.

Action anchors

Action anchors are taking a lead on shaping the conversation in the run up to the conference, and facilitating the conference session. They will be blogging about the key issues to be address, and existing initiatives that respond to the challenges in this area.

Blog posts

  • Global Open Data Standards Critical As We Move Forward June 8, 2015 - A guest post from Lynne McAvoy. At the 3rd International Open Data Conference 2015 (#iodc15), moderator José Alonso of the World Wide Web Foundation, initiated the discussion on global data standards with a panel of open data supporters, including Caroline Burle, World Wide Web Consortium’s Brazil office, Hudson Hollister, Data Transparency Coalition, Chris Taggart, OpenCorporates, Sarah […]
  • Building standards from the ground up May 28, 2015 - Yesterday, attendees of the International Open Data Conference met for a pre-workshop exploring how we put users at the centre of the standards process. The topic of standards is very broad: there are standards all around us, from the size of the nuts and bolts that hold up the buildings we’re in, to the shape […]
  • Humanitarian Exchange Language: a simple standard for messy data May 27, 2015 - A guest post from UNOCHA on the Humanitarian Exchange Language data standard. UNOCHA is excited to announce the 1.0 beta release of the Humanitarian Exchange Language (HXL) standard, developed with the help of representatives from British Red Cross, the UK Department for International Development, the Humanitarian Innovation Fund, the International Organization for Migration, Save the Children, […]
  • Slow down with the standards talk: it’s interoperability & information quality we should focus on May 23, 2015 - A guest post from Tim Davies, exploring how interoperability offers a richer conceptual framework for thinking about the challenges of joining up data.  tl;dr We want to be able to join up data from different sources, and to assess and increase the quality of information being shared; An interoperability lens offers a better way to think […]
  • 8 things you probably believe about your data standard May 21, 2015 - A guest post from Friedrich Lindenberg proposing some common fallacies of data standarization projects. Developing open data standards is all the rage. IATI, EITI, OCDS, GTFS, XBRL, SDMX, BDP, HDX – if your sector doesn’t have a cryptic-sounding data initiative yet, it probably will soon. In fact, chances are that you’re drawing one up right now (I am). In […]
  • Why we can’t take data standards for granted May 13, 2015 - A guest post from Bill Anderson of Development Initiatives on the challenge ahead to make sure we have the data that matters.  Decision-makers and those that hold them to account, whether at local, national or global level, require access to usable, meaningful information that throws light on the problems they are seeking to solve. Putting information into […]
  • Beyond raw data: creating city standards for priority datasets May 13, 2015 - A guest post from CTIC exploring work towards developing common open data standards. CTIC has been involved in many of the most important open data projects in Spain over recent years, from the implementation of the national catalogue, and multiple initiatives at local levels, to working as a partner in the SharePSI2.0 project, that brings […]
  • Simple standards & shared understanding: the case of OpenAddresses May 5, 2015 - In this guest post, Tom Lee of Mapbox argues that simplicity is vital for successful data standards, even at the cost of expressiveness, and that standards can help overcome barriers to government coordination: Finding your way through the world is a basic need, so it makes sense that satellite navigation systems like GPS and Galileo are […]


Proposals for addressing this challenge will be developed over the course of IODC15, and shared here shortly afterwards.

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