Open Data Resources from the GovLab

Saturday March 3, 2018 marks another Open Data Day . This annual celebration encourages communities around the world to come together and explore the public value that could potentially be created through open data.

This year’s event is built around four central themes: Open Research Data, Tracking Public Money Flows, Open Mapping, and Data for Equal Development.

To contribute to the occasion, The GovLab compiled some of its open data research and resources into the below compendium including:

  • Books
  • Case Studies
  • Reports & Papers
  • Projects
  • Additional Resources

Open Data’s Impact

The home of GovLab’s work on the impact of open data. A collection of detailed case studies, key challenges and how to overcome them, and recommendations for governments and practitioners concerned with open data.

Periodic Table of Open Data Elements

Based on the existing literature and case studies, this periodic table, details the enabling conditions and disabling factors that often determine the impact of open data initiatives.

[open access] Books

The Global Impact of Open Data by Andrew Young & Stefaan G. Verhulst

“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. The authors 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.”

Open Data in Developing Economies: Toward Building an Evidence Base on What Works and How by Stefaan G. Verhulst & Andrew Young

“This book features in-depth case studies on how open data is having an impact across the developing world-from an agriculture initiative in Colombia to data-driven healthcare projects in Uganda and South Africa to crisis response in Nepal. Open Data for Developing Economies features in-depth case studies on how open data is having an impact across the developing world-from an agriculture initiative in Colombia to data-driven healthcare projects in Uganda and South Africa to crisis response in Nepal. The analysis built on these case studies aims to create actionable intelligence regarding: a) the conditions under which open data is most (and least) effective in development, presented in the form of a Periodic Table of Open Data; b) strategies to maximize the positive contributions of open data to development; c) and the means for limiting open data’s harms on developing countries.”

The Social Dynamics of Open Data by Francois van Schalkwyk, Stefaan Verhulst, Gustavo Magalhaes, Juan Pane & Johanna Walker (eds)

The Social Dynamics of Open Data is a collection of peer reviewed papers presented at the 2nd Open Data Research Symposium (ODRS) held in Madrid, Spain, on 5 October 2016. Research is critical to developing a more rigorous and fine-combed analysis not only of why open data is valuable, but how it is valuable and under what specific conditions. The objective of the Open Data Research Symposium and the subsequent collection of chapters published here is to build such a stronger evidence base. This base is essential to understanding what open data’s impacts have been to date, and how positive impacts can be enabled and amplified. Consequently, common to the majority of chapters in this collection is the attempt by the authors to draw on existing scientific theories, and to apply them to open data to better explain the socially embedded dynamics that account for open data’s successes and failures in contributing to a more equitable and just society.”

37 Case Studies

Across two related projects — The Global Impact of Open Data, with support from Omidyar Network and Open Data in Developing Economies, in partnership with USAID, mSTAR, FHI 360, and the Web Foundation — the GovLab developed 37 detailed case studies exploring open data’s impacts around the world. The case studies were developed based on the recognition that, despite global commitments to and increasing enthusiasm for open data, little is actually known about its use and impact. What kinds of social and economic transformation has open data brought about and what is its future potential? How — and under what circumstances — has it been most effective? How have open data practitioners mitigated risks and maximized social good?

The case study research informed the developmend of a new taxonomy of impact for open data initiatives, outlining four central dimensions in which open data has been effective.

1. Improving Government — Open data is improving government, primarily by tackling corruption and increasing transparency, and enhancing public services and resource allocation.

2. Empowering Citizens — Open data is empowering citizens to take control of their lives and demand change by enabling more informed decision making and new forms of social mobilization, both in turn facilitated by new ways of communicating and accessing information.

3. Creating Opportunity — Open data is creating new opportunities for citizens and organizations, by fostering innovation and promoting economic growth and job creation.

4. Solving Public Problems –Open data is playing an increasingly important role in solving big public problems, primarily by allowing citizens and policymakers access to new forms of data-driven assessment of the problems at hand. It also enables data-driven engagement producing more targeted interventions and enhanced collaboration.

Reports & Papers

Rights-Based and Tech-Driven: Open Data, Freedom of Information, and the Future of Government Transparency by Beth Simone Noveck

This essay explores the theory and practice of open data in comparison to FOIA and highlights its uses as a tool for advancing human rights, saving lives, and strengthening democracy. It argues that “by fostering public engagement, open data shifts the relationship between state and citizen from a monitorial to a collaborative one, centered around using information to solve problems together”.

Smarter Health: Boosting Analytical Capacity at NHS by Beth Simone Noveck, Stefaan G. Verhulst, Andrew Young, Maria Hermosilla, Anirudh Dinesh & Juliet McMurren

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

Open Data: A Twenty-First Century Asset for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises by Stefaan G. Verhulst & Robyn Caplan

A report exploring how the vast and rapid opening of privately-held data influences the general economy focusing on over 300 small and medium-sized businesses and start-up

The Open Data Era in Health and Social Care by Stefaan G. Verhulst, Beth Simone Noveck, Robyn Caplan, Kristy Brown & Claudia Paz

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.

Information for Impact: Liberating Nonprofit Sector Data by Beth Simone Noveck & Danniel L. Goroff

This report addresses 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. In 2016, three years after the report’s publication, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service began openly publishing machine-readable nonprofit tax return data on Amazon Web Services.

Current GovLab Open Data Projects

Open Data Demand Assessment & Engagement, NYC

Building on existing research on the use and impact of open data, and with grant support from the Omidyar Network, the GovLab, NYC Open Data Team, Reboot and Mayor’s Fund are collaborating to develop a first-of-its-kind open data demand identification and assessment methodology toward developing a more evidence-based open data strategy to match supply and demand across NYC.

Open Data Demand Assessment & Engagement, Costa Rica

In collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank, the GovLab is working with the Presidency of Costa Rica to develop and test a methodology for assessing the demand for open data, focusing especially on the demand for open government data among actors seeking to address issues related to environmental degradation and climate change.

Open Data 500 Global Network

Supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Open Data 500 is the first ever survey of businesses using open government data as a key business asset. OD500 started with a U.S.-focused study, and has now expanded to five other countries, including the recently launched:

Open Data 150 Canada

Open Data 200 Italy

Additional Resources

Open Data Publications and Selected Readings

Open Data Tools, Training and Community

  • Open Data’s Impact Resource Repository: 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.
  • The GovLab Index on Open Data: 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.
  • Solving public problems with Data: A series of online lectures providing an introduction to data science and data analytical thinking in the public interest.
  • Network of Innovators Open Data Discus Forum (NOI): A platform aimed at helping innovators inside and outside of government better sharing knowledge on new ways of governing.

Finally, check out also our work on Data Collaboratives: New Public Private Partnerships for a Data Age

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