Making Cities Open by Default: Lessons from open data pioneers

City governments play a vital role in building communities where people can live, work, and play, as well as fostering resilient and sustainable development. Cities are responsible for providing basic services that most directly impact the lives of the public. There is a growing movement to give people access to the data and information that they need to hold city leaders to account for the decisions they make and the services they deliver.

For this report, the Charter and OpenNorth investigated the opportunities and challenges faced by cities improving their open data programme, and specifically the role that the Charter can play in supporting this process.

We spoke to government officials, politicians and civil society from four cities (Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal and Winnipeg) and one province (Ontario) in Canada, as well as three international cities (Lviv – Ukraine, Buenos Aires – Argentina and Durham – US).

Adoption & Implementation Roadmap

This roadmap has been designed to support government officials who are helping their
organisations to adopt and implement the principles of the Open Data Charter. It’s also
relevant to non-governmental organisations and businesses interested in supporting the
implementation of open data policies.

There are a number of existing tools that assess open data initiatives. But organisations
often need guidance, in the form of a recommended action plan, that will help them
begin the process of implementing the Charter principles.

This document provides a suggested roadmap. It is intended to act as a reference for
governments officials to turn the Charter principles into a set of concrete actions that can
help plan and improve open data practice. It should be read alongside the Activities
Table setting out specific actions that governments should consider following.

Harnessing Open Data to Achieve Development Results in Asia and Africa (Open Data in Asia and Africa, ODAA)

Working with a diverse set of partners on a broad range of sector-specific challenges and applying appropriate support and mentoring strategies allowed for targeted exploration of demand-driven and ecosystem approach to open data in developing countries. Taken together, the findings from the various projects each contribute to our understanding of how open data ecosystems operate and thrive. Design and scaling open data solutions and interventions that are mindful of these insights will allow open data to impact positively on the lives of ordinary citizens in developing countries.

Exploring Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries: Phase One

Exploring the Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries (ODDC) is a multi-country, multi-year study to understand the use and impact of open data in developing countries across the world.

The project explores how open data can foster improved governance, support citizens’ rights, and promote more inclusive development through looking at the emerging impacts of existing open data projects in developing countries. This work is designed to inform the development of planned and on-going open data initiatives in the South. The project worked through a series of open data case studies in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. These case studies examine initiatives, the governance challenges they propose to address, and emerging outcomes and impacts from the application of open data in these contexts. The project also developed cross-cutting data collection instruments and analysis approaches to help explain if and how open data is bringing change to developing countries. Finally, it engaged with global and local policymaking and practice in order to improve developmental outcomes of these initiatives.

Over a hundred researchers from the global South have been involved in developing 17 qualitative case studies with findings that span 13 countries, from Indonesia to Brazil. These studies describe a wide range of open data efforts, including top-down initiated projects, led by governments and donors; bottom-up efforts, led by technology communities or civil society organisations; and sector-specific initiatives focussed on very specific datasets.

The projects and publications that emerged from Phase One are available here.

 

 

Open Data How to Guides

The Web Foundation’s Open Data Lab produces how-to guides that outline step-by-step the different approaches used in their projects. Some of the Guides are:

1. Opening Data from the Ground UpThis is our step-by-step guide on how we worked with the education agency in Banda Aceh to open up data that was in demand by civil society, as well as how we supported civil society organisations to make use of the data to improve the quality of education in their city.

2. Leveraging Open Data for Greater Fiscal Transparency: This How-to Guide is intended for organisations with expertise in open data, who would like to help civil society groups strengthen their fiscal transparency work through open data. It is also intended for government agencies with established open data initiatives who want to strengthen user engagement and increase citizen participation.

3. Fostering Government and Civil Society Collaboration through Open Data: This guide suggests specific steps that can be taken by funding agencies, project implementers, and other stakeholders who want to promote collaboration between government and CSOs through the use of open data. This approach is particularly helpful in a context where there is prevailing distrust and animosity between the two groups, as it can ensure collaborations are based on facts, not opinions.

4. Accessing and Making Use of Open Health Data: This guide is written for donors, civil society organisations, governments, and other stakeholders who would like to build capacity of user groups in accessing and using open health data to improve their advocacy or development work. In some cases, user groups will be entirely new to open data. Others might have experience using health data, but are unaware of better ways to find datasets efficiently and/or struggle to make effective use of them.