Announcing the “Open Data Field Guide”: A Playbook for Success

Posted February 13th, 2013

By bquigg

With the field of open data is changing and expanding all of the time, how does an organization find a foothold and start an initiative? What are the dos, don’ts and golden rules of open data?

Socrata has had the privilege of helping some of the world’s leading open data programs achieve success over the past four years. From the World Bank to Chicago, we have learned from their experiences.

And, rather than keep all of that useful knowledge to ourselves, we recently gathered it up into a single, comprehensive guide for people at any stage of an open data initiative. We call it the “Open Data Field Guide.”

Whether you’re trying to select your first data set to publish or want to create an open data policy, the Guide gives you resources for nearly any phase of growth.

“We’ve witnessed, again and again, the amazing transformation that can happen once organizations put their data to work,” says Socrata CEO Kevin Merritt. “This guide is designed to share what we know right now. It will continue to evolve as the field grows.”

Lessons Learned

Beginning with topics like, “Why Open Data? Why Now?” the Guide covers a range of key success factors such as goal setting, assembling a team, community outreach, the six steps to open data program implementation, and more.

Socrata interviewed a number of its customers to add their advice to the Guide. It features insights from many of them and, to start, full interviews from three major players in the Chicago open data community, Chief Data Officer Brett Goldstein, Director of Performance Management and Analytics, Tom Schenk, and civic hacker Derek Eder.

Socrata plans to publish more full interviews over the coming months from thought leaders at organizations like the state of Colorado, the World Bank, the city of Edmonton, state of Maryland, state of Oregon, and many other innovators in the field.

“We want people to read the Guide, engage, give feedback, and use it to strengthen the open data community,” says Merritt. “This is a living document.”

Useful Resources in Companion Toolkit

The Guide also features a companion “Open Data Field Kit” with resources like “Top 10 Open Datasets,” “Sample Open Data Strategic Charter,” and “How to Run a Hackathon”

“The toolkit will grow as pioneering open data efforts continue. This field is young. We’ve scoured policies and process documents to build a collection of resources so that no one has to start from scratch,” says Merritt.

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