Open Data Resources from the GovLab

Saturday March 4, 2017 marks the 7th annual International Open Data Day — an event in which participants across the globe will “create local events that will use open data in their communities” with the idea of demonstrating its positive value. Over 322 events are currently planned across all 6 continents. This year’s event highlights four areas where open data initiatives can be particularly impactful: tracking money flows, the environment, human rights, and open data research. In the interest of sharing what we’ve learned about open data over the years, the GovLab compiled some of its open data research and projects into this compendium.

Publications: Reports, Case Studies, and E-Books

The Global Impact of Open Data

A free e-book compiling the 19 case studies and key findings drawn from the GovLab and Omidyar Network Open Data Impact initiative. The e-book provides recommendations to policymakers and entrepreneurs; highlights common challenges; analyzes specific cases in which open data has been implemented in a range of contexts, environments, and locations; and offers insight into the conditions that can enable impactful open data uses.

Information for Impact: Liberating Nonprofit Sector Data

This report was designed to address whether and how making Form 990 data – tax information provided to the IRS about tax-exempt organizations – truly open would not only make it easier to use for the organizations that already process it, but would also make it useful to researchers, advocates, entrepreneurs, technologists, and nonprofits that do not have the resources to use the data in its current form. We argue in this paper that open 990 data may increase transparency for nonprofit organizations, making it easier for state and federal authorities to detect fraud, spur innovation in the nonprofit sector and, above all, help us to understand the potential value of the 990 data. In 2016, three years after the publication of this report, the IRS formally opened Form 990 data.

The Open Data Era in Health and Social Care

A blueprint developed by the GovLab in partnership with the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK to accelerate the use of open data in healthcare settings. The blueprint suggests ways to enable a conversation about how the health and care system can maximize the impact of sharing open data through establishing priorities and clear ways of measuring benefits.

Open Data: A Twenty-First Century Asset for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises

A paper exploring how the vast and rapid opening of privately-held data influences the general economy — specifically by focusing on over 300 small and medium-sized businesses and start-ups.

Open Data Impact

The home of GovLab’s work on the impact of open data. Here, researchers can find detailed case studies, key challenges and how to overcome them, and recommendations for governments and practitioners concerned with open data. The site features the paper, Open Data Impact: When Demand and Supply Meet, which brings together the key findings surfaced in the following case studies of open data projects from around the world:

Smarter Health: Boosting Analytical Capacity at NHS

Informed by both a literature review and analysis as well as over fifty interviews with NHS and other experts, this paper offers a multiplicity of proposed recommendations – including many related to the use of open data – for meeting the data analytic talent gap and achieving greater institutional readiness without full-time hiring.


The GovLab Index on Open Data

Inspired by Harper’s Index, the Open Data Index is a collection of statistics that demonstrate who uses open data, how it is used, its value to society, and the type of data that has been opened.

Network of Innovators Open Data Discus Forum

The Network of Innovators (NOI) is a platform aimed at helping innovators inside and outside of government better sharing knowledge on new ways of governing. In addition to matchmaking functionalities that allow those with questions or opportunities to match with those who possess the relevant skills and experiences, NOI also features a categorized Q&A forum where users can browse past discussions and pose questions to the full network.

Open Data’s Impact Resource Repository

A starting point for anyone interested in exploring the world of open data. This collection of resources includes working definitions of open data, links to relevant glossaries that explain terminology, additional repositories of open data case studies, and more information on institutions and research networks that study open data.

Open Data Publications on the Open Governance Research Exchange (OGRX)

OGRX is a platform to browse and share the latest research related to open governance, developed by the GovLab in partnership with MySociety and the World Bank Digital Evaluation Team. The Open Data section on OGRX features over 150 curated research publications on the use, impacts and theoretical underpinnings of open data.

The GovLab Selected Readings on Open Data

The GovLab Selected Readings series provides an annotated and curated collection of recommended works on key opening governance topics. The Selected Readings on Open Data includes 15 key research publications on open data from scholars and organizations around the world.

The GovLab Selected Readings on Open Data for Developing Economies

This curated selection of readings provides a view of the current research and practice on the use of open data for development and its relationship to related interventions, like Open Development, Data for Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

GovLab Projects

Data Driven Criminal Justice

To accelerate trusted access to data for improved management of our criminal justice system, the Governance Lab with the support of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, is working to articulate principles, policies, practices, and tools for trusted data sharing that safeguard civil liberties while maximizing the opportunity for evidence-based policy making and reform. The goal of the project is to enable greater collaboration between government and the research community to the end of improving effectiveness and legitimacy of our nation’s criminal justice system. The effort has already produced the recently launched Data Justice Network, which provides practitioners using data to improve criminal justice the ability to match with one another based on their skills and experiences.

Open Data 500 Global Network

Organized by the GovLab, the Open Data 500 network is a platform through which businesses and organizations can study the effects of open data in their country and analyze the data which has been opened; to date, detailed studies include nations such as Mexico, the United States, and Korea. The Open Data 150 Canada is the latest addition to the Global Network.

Open Data for Developing Economies

This project, in partnership with USAID and FHI 360, seeks to build an evidence base identifying: a) the conditions under which open data is most (and least) effective in the development process; b) strategies to maximize the positive contributions of open data to development; and c) means for limiting open data’s harms on developing countries. It will feature a dozen case studies on open data uses in developing economies, and a report summarizing cross-cutting lessons and insights.