This video explains the importance of getting stakeholders to be partners on the open data work.
- [Instructor] It's easy for those of us who get open data, or work with it, like me and perhaps you, to forget that for most people, open data will be a new and complex subject. Look, the very term open data will throw many off, assuming its techno babble for a subject that belongs in the dark dungeons of the back office. In any relatively new space, we are faced with the majority who still need to be educated and convinced. It's important that we don't assume that everyone is into open data, and ready to embrace it. In the attention economy that exists within government, open data is going to be competing with an existing long list of priorities, so this presents a challenge.
How do we get in a conversation on the value of open data to a public agency, and then perhaps, even more importantly, how do we convince a community of its value? I'd like to briefly discuss both of these questions. Let's start with convincing a public agency. We need to begin with a champion. This could be a senior official, like a mayor, or a city manager, or it could be a staff person. We will need to assume that they are already convinced to the value of open data, perhaps from a colleague, an article, a conference, this video, or some other source.
They will begin the deliberate and patient work of beginning to socialize the concepts of open data. This can be done at meetings, town halls, webinars, or other communication platforms. They will use many of the arguments for the value of open data that I presented in earlier videos in this course. They will build allies across the organization, these are people who become convinced, and will help to be ambassadors for the message. Outside resources should be engaged, such as inviting guests to tell their stories, from other agencies that have already been successful.
Ultimately though, research tells us that the best way to convince people is to show them. This means that you're going to have to build something. If the argument has been strongly made, then it might be time to ask for a budget to spin up a full program. If you've been marginally successful, this might be the time to produce a limited prototype. This will depend agency to agency. In either instance, my advice is to choose a rather easy data set, something that isn't sensitive or controversial, and get it uploaded quickly. Some examples might be the current year budget, or community demographic data.
These kind of data sets are already widely available, and there is an existing comfort with them. Demonstrating the open data portal with just one or two data sets might just be enough to make the case for additional funding, and an incremental commitment to an open data program. To really provide the wow factor, consider a visualization, and for extra points, a data story. Most organizations will follow a similar process such as this for their internal launch. What will be more unique is the way that the open data portal is sold to the community.
This will be highly dependent on the culture of that audience. So, how might we sell the value of open data to community? One lesson that I quickly learned, early in my technology career is that the adage, build it, and they will come is often not the case. There are too many instances in organizations when a new technology is deployed, and all the energy goes into the planning, development, design, and then nothing is done to promote, engage, and train the user population. A wonderful solution is made available, but very few people use it, what a shame.
What we have to do is create a marketing and engagement plan, and then we need to tirelessly execute on that plan. It's the same with launching an open data portal to a community. A plan needs to be developed. There won't be just one task, but a long list of tasks that makes sense for the community. Some of this will include traditional marketing, like broadcast emails, social media promotion, mailers, ads in local papers, radio interviews, and other media opportunities. It will also be about introducing open data into the discussion of public meetings.
Government staff should be encouraged to direct users to use the open data portal. More importantly, create a plan, and execute on it. That's not the end of the topic. Open data presents a unique opportunity to engage in community. It is a bidirectional language, that is, a way for an agency to communicate to an audience, and for the audience to use to communicate back to an agency. For example, an agency can use open data to demonstrate its commitment to transparency. A community member can use open data to help build a case to support a position they are promoting, say on crime, or quality of water.
We will soon find that marketing open data means communicating its unique value propositions, and then demonstrating them.
Dr. Jonathan Reichental introduces real-world use cases for open data, as well as the steps you need to take to develop and operationalize an open data program. He also explains how data scientists use open data to tell stories and drive data visualizations. Along the way, he provides numerous examples of open data in action: improving government, empowering citizens, creating opportunity, and solving public problems.
- Understanding what open data really is
- Current open data efforts around the globe
- Open data in action
- Designing an open data governance process, including policies
- Monetizing open data
- Storytelling with open data
- Selling the value of open data
- Measuring the value of open data