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The Global Impact of Open Data

Book Description

Open data has spurred economic innovation, social transformation, and fresh forms of political and government accountability in recent years, but few people understand how open data works. This comprehensive report, developed with support from Omidyar Network, presents detailed case studies of open data projects throughout the world, along with in-depth analysis of what works and what doesn’t.

Authors Andrew Young and Stefaan Verhulst, both with The GovLab at New York University, explain how these projects have made governments more accountable and efficient, helped policymakers find solutions to previously intractable public problems, created new economic opportunities, and empowered citizens through new forms of social mobilization.

This report includes:

  • Recommendations and implementation steps for policymakers, entrepreneurs, and activists looking to leverage open data
  • Key challenges, such as resource shortages and inadequate privacy or security protections
  • Four conditions that enable open data to work—including organizational partnerships and collaborations
  • Case studies of open data projects for improving government in Brazil, Sweden, Slovakia, and other countries
  • Projects for empowering citizens in Tanzania, Kenya, Mexico, and Uruguay
  • New business opportunities enabled by open weather, geo-location, and market research data
  • Public problem-solving efforts built on open data for Ebola in Sierra Leone, dengue fever in Singapore, and earthquakes in New Zealand

Andrew Young (@_AndrewYoung) is the Associate Director of Research at The GovLab (www.thegovlab.org), where he leads a number of grant-funded research efforts focusing on the impact of technology on public institutions. He is also the Network Coordinator of the GovLab-chaired MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Opening Governance.

Stefaan G. Verhulst (@sverhulst) is the Co-Founder and Chief R&D Officer of The GovLab at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering, responsible for experimentation and evidence gathering on how to transform governance by using advances in science and technology. He was Chief of Research for the Markle Foundation, where he continues to serve as Senior Advisor.

Table of Contents

  1. Acknowledgements
  2. Executive Summary
  3. I. Open Data’s Impact—Lessons Learned
  4. 1. Understanding the Impact of Open Data
    1. Introduction
    2. I. What Is Open Data?
    3. II. The Case Studies
      1. Methodology
      2. The 19 Cases
    4. III. What Is the Impact of Open Data on People’s Lives?
      1. Taxonomy of Open-Data Impact
    5. IV. What Are the Enabling Conditions that Significantly Enhance the Impact of Open Data?
    6. V. What Are the Challenges to Open Data Making an Impact?
      1. The Eight Premises that Determine the Impact of Open Data
    7. VI. Recommendations: Toward a Next Generation Open-Data Roadmap
      1. Recommendation 1:Focus on and Define Key Problem Areas for Which Open Data Can Add Value
      2. Recommendation 2:Encourage Collaborations Across Sectors (Especially Between Government, Private Sector, and Civil Society) to Better Match the Supply and Demand of Open Data
      3. Recommendation 3:Approach and Treat Data as a Form of Vital 21st-Century Public Infrastructure
      4. Recommendation 4:Create Clear Open-Data Policies That Are Measurable and Allow for Agile Evolution
      5. Recommendation 5:Take Steps to Increase the Capacity of Public and Private Actors to Make Meaningful Use of Open Data
      6. Recommendation 6:Identify and Manage Risks Associated with the Release and Use of Open Data
      7. Recommendation 7:Be Responsive to the Needs, Demands, and Questions Generated from the Use of Open Data
      8. Recommendation 8:Allocate and Identify Adequate Resources to Sustain and Expand the Necessary Open-Data Infrastructure in a Participatory Manner
      9. Recommendation 9:Develop a Common Research Agenda to Move Toward Evidence-Based Open Data Policies and Practices
      10. Recommendation 10:Keep Innovating
    8. Key Remaining Questions
  5. II. Case Studies: Improving Government
  6. 2. Brazil’s Open Budget Transparency Portal: Making Public How Public Money Is Spent
    1. Context and Background
      1. Corruption in Brazil
      2. Open Data in Brazil
    2. Project Description and Inception
      1. Portal Description
    3. Impact
      1. Traffic
      2. Policy Changes: Official Credit Card Usage
      3. Local and Cross-Border Dissemination
      4. Changing Climate for Corruption
    4. Challenges
      1. Interoperability and Data Standards
      2. Privacy
      3. Scaling
    5. Looking Forward
  7. 3. Openaid in Sweden: Enhanced Transparency and Accountability
    1. Context and Background
    2. Product Description and Inception
      1. Underlying Data
      2. Open Format
    3. Impact
      1. Increased Transparency and Accountability
      2. Improved Management Efficiency
      3. Enabling Collaboration with Beneficiaries
    4. Challenges
      1. Structural Challenges
      2. Data Privacy
      3. Usability and Citizen Engagement
      4. Data Licensing
    5. Looking Forward
      1. Usability and functionality
      2. Forward-Planning Data
      3. Collaboration with Other Partners
  8. 4. Open Contracting and Procurement in Slovakia: Establishing Trust in Government
    1. Context and Background
    2. Impact
      1. Intended Beneficiaries
      2. Engagement and Use
      3. Corruption and Perceptions of Corruption
      4. Citizen Awareness and Oversight
      5. Regional Diffusion
    3. Challenges
      1. Data Quality
      2. Cost (and Perceptions of Cost)
      3. Enforcement and Accountability (The Human Factor)
    4. Looking Forward
      1. Cross-Sectoral Collaboration Around Data Quality
      2. Training and Identification of Best Practices
      3. Monitoring Compliance
  9. 5. Indonesia’s Kawal Pemilu: Elections: Free, Fair, and Open Data
    1. Context and Background
      1. Corruption in Indonesia
      2. Open Data and Indonesian Elections
    2. Project Description and Inception
    3. Impact
      1. Settling the 2014 Election Results
      2. Increased Trust and Greater Public Participation
      3. Reduced Polarization
    4. Challenges
      1. Legal Changes
      2. Security
      3. Reliability of Information
      4. Lasting Political Impact
    5. Looking Forward
      1. Kawal APBD
      2. Mata Massa (“Eye of the Masses”)
      3. Kawal Pilkada
  10. 6. Denmark’s Open Address Data Set: Consolidating and Freeing-up Address Data
    1. Context and Background
    2. Project Description and Inception
    3. Impact
      1. Direct Financial Benefits
      2. Nonfinancial Benefits
      3. Benefits to Developer Community
      4. The Danish Basic Data Program
    4. Challenges
      1. Data Quality
      2. Governance of the Data Project
    5. Looking Forward
      1. Expected Benefits of the Basic Data Program
      2. Addressing Capacity Issues
  11. 7. Opening Canada’s T3010 Charity Information Return Data: Accountability of Charities through Open Data
    1. Context and Background
    2. Project Description and Inception
    3. Impact
      1. Benefits to Charities
      2. Enabling New Streams of Research
      3. Creating a New Business Asset
      4. Financial Benefits for Government and Identification of Tax Evasion
    4. Challenges
      1. Mismatch Between Expectations and Reality
      2. Data Quality: Transcription and Reporting Errors
      3. Definitional Challenges
      4. Shifting Government Priorities
    5. Looking Forward
      1. Improving the Usability of the Data
      2. IT Support for Nonprofits
      3. Nonprofit Data Collaboratives
  12. III. Case Studies: Empowering Citizens
  13. 8. Open Education Information in Tanzania: A Tale of Two Dashboards
    1. Context and Background
    2. Product Description and Inception
    3. Impact
      1. Engagement and use
      2. Data Quality and Diversity
      3. Impact on Other Data Projects
    4. Challenges
      1. Lack of Internet Penetration and Use
      2. Fragmentation
    5. Looking Forward
      1. Improving User Engagement through Expanded Functionality
      2. Education of Infomediaries
  14. 9. Kenya’s Open Duka: Open Data for Transactional Transparency
    1. Context and Background
      1. Corruption in Kenya
      2. Open Data and Technology in Kenya
    2. Project Description and Inception
      1. Data Sources
    3. Impact
      1. Seeding the Notion of Openness
    4. Challenges
      1. Government Devolution
      2. Data Quality and Availability
      3. Public Trust and Expectations
    5. Looking Forward
      1. Open County Program
      2. Tracking Metrics of Success
      3. Making the Platform More Accessible
      4. Expansion to Other Countries
  15. 10. Mexico’s Mejora Tu Escuela: Empowering Citizens to Make Data-Driven
    1. Context and Background
      1. Education in Mexico
      2. Information and Open Data in Mexico
    2. Product Description and Inception
      1. Project Description
      2. Get to Know Your School and Compare Your School
      3. School Grades
    3. Impact
      1. Impact on Beneficiaries
      2. Increased Accountability
      3. Corruption Report
    4. Challenges
      1. Standardized Test Cancellation
      2. Data Accessibility
      3. Data Quality
    5. Looking Forward
      1. Connecting Needs with Actions
      2. Publishing a School Budget
      3. Developing a Report Pipeline
      4. Translating Information into Action
  16. 11. Uruguay’s A Tu Servicio: Empowering Citizens to Make Data-Driven
    1. Context and Background
    2. Product Description and Inception
    3. Impact
      1. Intended Beneficiaries
      2. Use and Awareness:
      3. Data Quality:
      4. Impact on Other Open Data Projects:
    4. Challenges
      1. Timing constraints
      2. Outreach and communication
    5. Looking Forward
  17. IV. Case Studies: Creating Opportunity
  18. 12. Great Britain’s Ordnance Survey: A Clash of Business Models
    1. Context and Background
      1. OS Background
      2. Importance of Geospatial Data
      3. Open Data in the United Kingdom
    2. Project Description and Inception
      1. OS Today
      2. OS OpenData
    3. Impact
      1. Economic Impact
      2. OS Minecraft
      3. GeoVation Program
      4. Other Impacts
    4. Challenges
      1. Cost
      2. Addressing Open Data Principles
      3. Private Sector Competition
      4. Measuring Impact and User Demands
    5. Looking Forward
      1. Evolving GeoVation Hub
      2. OS OpenData Additions
      3. Looking Beyond the U.K.
      4. Supporting Smart Cities
  19. 13. United States’ New York City Business Atlas: Leveling the Playing Field
    1. Context and Background
    2. Project Description and Inception
      1. User-Centered Design and Partnering with Department of Small Business Services
    3. Impact
      1. Leveling the Playing Field for Market Research
      2. Enabling Business Improvement District (BID) Analysis
      3. Influencing Data Analytics Innovation in New York and Abroad
    4. Challenges
      1. Communicating Opportunity
      2. Addressing Technical Challenges
      3. Improving Granularity of Data
    5. Looking Forward
      1. Business Atlas 2.0: New Tools and Features
      2. Partnerships and Collaborations
  20. 14. United States’ NOAA: Opening Up Global Weather Data in Collaboration with Businesses: Creating a New Industry Through Access to Weather Data
    1. Context and Background
    2. Project Description and Inception
      1. NOAA Partnerships31,32,33,34
    3. Impact
      1. Economic Benefits
    4. Challenges
      1. Scaling
      2. Data Security
      3. Understanding User Needs
      4. Data Navigation and User Experience
      5. Data Awareness
    5. Looking Forward
  21. 15. United States Opening GPS for Civilian Use: Creating a Global Public Utility
    1. Context and Background
      1. GPS in Our Lives Today
      2. Early History of Satellite Navigation: Sputnik
      3. Early History of Satellite Navigation: Transit
    2. Project Description and Inception
      1. The Arrival of GPS
      2. Who Deserves the Credit?
      3. GPS Today
      4. The Nature of GPS Data
      5. How GPS Became Open
      6. Continuously Operating Reference Station (CORS)
    3. Impact
      1. Economic Impact
      2. Precise Timing
      3. Smartphones / Mobile Navigation
      4. Public Safety and Emergencies
      5. CORS Impacts
    4. Challenges
      1. Governance Challenges
      2. Funding and U.S. Policymaking
      3. Privacy Concerns
      4. GPS “Jamming” / Hacking / Security
      5. CORS Challenges
    5. Looking Forward
      1. Precision Farming
      2. Indoor Navigation
      3. Intelligent Transportation Systems and Driverless Cars
      4. Terrestrial Backups
      5. Evolving the CORS System
  22. V. Case Studies: Solving Public Problems
  23. 16. Battling Ebola in Sierra Leone: Data Sharing to Improve Crisis Response
    1. Context and Background
      1. Open Data in Sierra Leone
      2. The 2014 Ebola Outbreak
    2. Project Description and Inception
      1. Using Data in Combating Ebola
      2. National Ebola Response Centre (NERC)
      3. Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX)
      4. The Ebola GeoNode
    3. Impact
      1. Providing Evidence to Decision-makers
      2. The Impact of Maps
      3. Spurring Wider Use of Open Data in International Organizations
      4. Internal Capacity Building and Identifying Best Practices
    4. Challenges
      1. Data Management
      2. Collaborating with Government
      3. Lack of Existing Structures and Best Practice
    5. Looking Forward
      1. HDX: Enabling New Insights into the Spread of Ebola
      2. Next Steps for GeoNode
      3. The Closure of NERC
  24. 17. New Zealand’s Christchurch Earthquake Clusters: Open Data for Improving Emergency Response
    1. Context and Background
      1. Open Data in New Zealand
    2. Project Description and Inception
      1. Canterbury Recovery Map (Eq.org.nz)
      2. GIS and trusted data sharing
      3. Landcheck and MyProperty
      4. Forward Works Viewer
      5. Building Our Footprints
    3. Impact
      1. Higher-Quality Geospatial Data
      2. Facilitating Collaboration
      3. Impact on Other Data Projects
    4. Challenges
      1. Data Infrastructure Challenges
      2. Lack of a Property Framework
      3. Collaborations and Sharing Challenges
    5. Looking Forward
      1. Advancing Data-Driven Innovation in New Zealand
  25. 18. Singapore’s Dengue Cluster Map: Open Data for Public Health
    1. Context and Background
      1. Dengue Fever
      2. Dengue Fever in Singapore
      3. Open Data in Singapore
    2. Project Description and Inception
    3. Impact
      1. Average Citizens
      2. Media
      3. Developer Community
    4. Challenges
    5. Looking Forward
  26. 19. United States’ Eightmaps: The Unintended Negative Consequences
    1. Context and Background
      1. Legal Foundation of Campaign Finance Data Disclosure Laws in California
      2. Electronic Filing
      3. Privacy Concerns of Electronic Filing
      4. California’s Proposition 8
    2. Project Description and Inception
    3. Impact
      1. Harassment of Proposition 8 Donors
      2. Threats to Free Speech
      3. Activism Around Gay Rights
      4. Transparency vs Privacy
    4. Challenges
    5. Looking Forward
      1. Raising the Itemized Disclosure Threshold
      2. Placing New Safeguards on Downloads of Donor Information
      3. Better Transparency About How Data Is Used by Political Campaigns and Other Actors
  27. 20. Kennedy v. City of Zanesville, United States: Open Data as Evidence
    1. Context and Background
    2. Case Description and Inception
    3. Impact
    4. Challenges
      1. Security Concerns
      2. Awareness and Usability
      3. Data—the Human Factor
    5. Looking Forward
  28. A. Appendix
    1. Open Data Definitions—What’s in a Name?