What is the relation between the international Open Data Charter and G8 Charter?

In July 2013, G8 leaders signed the G8 Open Data Charter, which outlined a set of five core open data principles. Many nations and open government advocates welcomed the G8 Charter, but there was a general sense that the principles could be refined and improved to support broader global adoption of open data principles.

Building on these efforts, and through an open, inclusive and representative process, a number of open data champions from governments, multilateral organizations, civil society and private sector developed the International Open Data Charter.

The International Open Data Charter contains 6 principles:

  1. Open by Default;
  2. Timely and Comprehensive;
  3. Accessible and Useable;
  4. Comparable and Interoperable;
  5. For Improved Governance and Citizen Engagement; and
  6. For Inclusive Development and Innovation.

The Open Data Charter builds on the G8 Charter in a number of important ways:

  • It is available for adoption by all national and subnational governments;
  • It promotes the comparability and interoperability of data for increased usage and impact, with an entirely new principle;
  • It acknowledges global challenges such as the digital divide, and the significant opportunities of open data for inclusive development;
  • It recommends standardisation (e.g. data and metadata);
  • It encourages cultural change;
  • It recognizes the importance of safeguarding the privacy of citizens and their right to influence the collection and use of their own personal data;
  • It fosters increased engagement with citizens and civil society;
  • It promotes increased focus on data literacy, training programs, and entrepreneurship; and
  • It welcomes the adoption by other organizations, such as those from civil society or the private sector.


How can national governments and cities adopt the Charter?

Institutions seeking to adopt the Open Data Charter should release a high-level public statement (issued by the Head of State, Minister, Secretary, Deputy Secretary, or other appropriate official) that articulates the adoption of the Open Data Charter and defines the following four key elements:

  1. Appointment of a key ministry, department, or agency, including a direct individual, to serve as point of contact responsible for implementing the Open Data Charter’s principles.
  2. Delivery mechanism(s) through which the Open Data Charter will be operationalized by the institution. The specific activities, methodologies, tools, and processes of the mechanism(s) that will be used to deliver the Open Data Charter should be defined.
  3. Time-bound actions that outline specific, realistic deadlines by which progress toward implementation can be demonstrated.
  4. Means of verification of the specific actions that will be taken by the institution to track the progress of the Charter’s implementation.
  5. Send this info to info@opendatacharter.net


How can nongovernmental organizations endorse the Charter?

Organizations who are not governmental or intergovernmental (such as NGOs, companies, professional organizations, etc.) who wish to endorse the Charter may do so by sharing the following information as outlined in the steps below.

  1. A brief statement endorsing the Open Data Charter and activities that your organization will undertake to promote the Charter.
  2. Identify a key individual within the organization to act as the main point of contact for updates on the Charter: name, title, email address.
  3. Send this information as an attachment on the organization’s letterhead to info@opendatacharter.net.


What are the Open Data Charter accountability mechanisms?

While adherence to the Open Data Charter is on a non-binding, voluntary basis, and with recognition that countries are at different stages in their efforts to promote open data, it is paramount that adopting institutions uphold the principles of the Charter, so as to maintain its credibility and promote greater impact.

Institutions are eligible to become adopting parties of the Open Data Charter when they meet the requirements of the Adoption Mechanism of the Open Data Charter outlined above. Institutions will maintain their eligibility by demonstrating continuous commitment to and progress with implementation of the Charter.

Transparency and accountability are vital to promoting efficient implementation of the Charter’s principles. To demonstrate transparency and accountability, institutions should participate actively with recognized external accountability and impact evaluation mechanisms in regard to open data. In addition, they should publicly follow up on their own progress on a yearly basis.

What is the ODC governance model and decision-making mechanism?

The Open Data Charter is set up as a Global Multi-Stakeholder Action Network with two types of leading members: Stewards and Lead Stewards. Members of these two groups are also encouraged to join Working Groups according to their interests and expertise.

Both types of Stewards are responsible for participating and collaborating in the development, launch, and implementation of the Charter and its supporting resources, as well contributing to decisions regarding the charter’s expansion. The Charter’s activities are coordinated through an Interim Secretariat, which will be operationalized under a host organization which will provide the necessary support.

What is the Resource Centre?

The Resource Centre of the Open Data Charter is designed to be a searchable, interactive online toolkit which brings together a number of resources.

The Resource Centre will be an enabling tool for governments wishing to implement the Open Data Charter. It is not a comprehensive list of standards or metrics to which governments will be held accountable, but instead a repository of useful documents, links, studies, and policies that can support open data implementation anywhere in the world, as well as for all the materials produced and developed by the Charter’s Working Groups.

What are the ODC Working Groups and what do they do?

Stewards or Lead Stewards of the Charter are responsible for participating and collaborating in the development, launch, and implementation of the Charter and its supporting resources. In order to support widespread adoption and implementation of the Charter and to develop or identify materials for inclusion in the Charter Resource Centre, a number of Charter Working Groups will be formed, each focusing on a particular aspect of Charter development, adoption, or implementation. There are currently five working groups:

  1. Implementation Working Group  –  Develops tools and resources to support governments in the implementation of Charter principles, and promote and facilitate peer learning across signatory countries and organizations.
  2. Technical Working Group  –  Ensures that open data standards across sectors are connected and interoperable, supports the identification and development of internationally-recognized data standards and promotes the use of data standards to create impact.
  3. Subnational Governments Working Group  –  Develops strategies for subnational governments to develop their Open Data initiatives in line with Charter principles.
  4. Private Sector Working Group  –  Develops strategies for engagement with the private sector and explores the role of private sector in open data and in the implementation of Charter principles.
  5. Accountability and Incentive Mechanisms Working Group  –  Develops mechanisms to promote accountability and monitoring processes for Charter signatories.

If you represent a government, civil society organization, private sector or multilateral working on open data and wish to participate in the Open Data Charter’s working groups, please send an email to info@opendatacharter.net.

What is the ODC roadmap towards the International Open Data Conference 2016?

A Global Call to Action to adopt the Open Data Charter will be made at the United Nations General Assembly. At the OGP Summit in Mexico City (October 27-29, 2015), the Charter will be officially launched and opened for adoption by governments around the world.

Additional Charter events will be held on the margins of the G20 Leaders Meeting in Turkey in November 2015 and the COP 21 climate change conference in France in December 2015, promoting Charter adoption with a view to a final launch event at the International Open Data Conference to be held in Spain in 2016.

How does the ODC relate to other initiatives?

The Open Data Charter is an independent initiative, governed by the Stewards and Lead Stewards that make up the Charter’s Global Multi-Stakeholder Action Network. The Charter does not fall directly under the authority of any single institution or organization  (it is not, for example, an OGP Charter or a UN Charter or a G20 Charter). However, the Charter does share important linkages with some key organizations and initiatives focused on open data.

Global Partnership of Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD)

The Open Data Charter complements other initiatives such as the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD), and the United Nations Independent Advisory Group on the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development, as these focus specifically on the articulation and adoption of common open data principles as a vehicle for inclusive and sustainable development. The Charter also has the potential to support and align with work on open data principles that is being undertaken by the G20 (via the Anti-Corruption Working Group) and the High Level Conference of African Ministers (via the Africa Data Consensus).

G20’s Anti Corruption Working Group

In 2014, the G20’s Anti-Corruption Working Group (ACWG) identified Open Data as part of the high priority areas, and mandated the development of the G20 Anti Corruption Open Data Principles.

The G20 Anti corruption Open Data Principles are closely linked to the Charter to promote interoperability and cooperation between the two initiatives, while introducing important insights and expertise from anti corruption, transparency and government integrity experts, to target the impact creation, through open data, for a specific sector.

Open Government Partnership (OGP)

The Charter is closely aligned with two broader initiatives that are directly represented among Charter Lead Stewards – the Open Government Partnership (OGP, via its Open Data Working Group) and the Open Data for Development (OD4D) network. While the Charter is not directly governed by either of these initiatives, it can contribute significantly to the implementation of open data initiatives worldwide, supporting the goals of open government, sustainable development, peer learning, and capacity building for open data.

International Open Data Conference (IODC)

The Charter supports the implementation of the roadmap for open data articulated by the International Open Data Conference (IODC). The Charter was featured prominently in discussions during IODC 2015 in Ottawa, Canada. The open data principles articulated by the Charter will be essential to unlocking the value of open data worldwide, and supporting many aspects of the open data roadmap.

The above is by no means a comprehensive list of all initiatives that are relevant to the Charter. As the Charter is adopted and implemented by governments around the world, the intention is that the above network of organizations and institutions focused on open data will continue to grow and linkages between these bodies will continue to be identified and strengthened.

How will the Charter be modified and updated over time?

For the first two years of its existence, the Charter will undergo only minor language changes where clarity is needed. After the first two years, there will be a clearly articulated process for transparent review, evaluation, and updating of the Charter. The Charter is meant to be a living document, incorporating advances in processes and principles related to open data. Stakeholders in the Charter will have an active voice if any substantive changes to the Charter are proposed.

We are currently in the process of refreshing the Charter principles, with the Implementation Working Group leading the charge. More information about the process here and here.

How does my organization become involved as a Steward of the Open Data Charter?

Organizations interested in supporting the development and implementation of the Charter by becoming a Steward are invited to submit a letter of interest stating the organization’s involvement with open data and its commitment to the Charter principles, and identifying a point of contact within the organization.

Stewards receive frequent updates on the work of this multi-stakeholder action network and have an opportunity to contribute to the development of the Charter and accompanying documentation. Below are the currently agreed upon roles and responsibilities of Charter Stewards:

  • Champion the International Open Data Charter across your networks
  • Help further elaborate the Charter working model/guiding approach in the months ahead
  • Become active in one or more working groups
  • Mobilize additional resources through your networks where possible
  • Participate in monthly meetings (in-person or conference calls)

If you are interested in becoming a Charter Steward and taking on the roles outlined above, please submit your letter of interest via email to info@opendatacharter.net.