Data Literacy: Making data work for all

In the forthcoming conclusion of The State of Open Data: Histories and Horizons, the importance of data literacy is front and centre:

Securing the benefits of open data, and mitigating the risks associated with the abuse of data by powerful actors, requires much more widespread data literacy. Models for capacity building exist, but few have been tested at scale….
Fundamentally, open data literacy is not just about technical skills. It involves a critical awareness of the right to know, the power of data, and how data can be explored and questioned.

Data literacy inside government is vital for improving the supply of open data. It is vital for civil society to be able to make effective use of data, and it is a key foundation for public debate around responsible data.

Over the last eight years, many governments have used their Open Government Partnership (OGP) National Action Plans to make commitments related to open data. Over the years, these have developed from ‘Open Data 1.0’, with a focus on portals and data publication, to ‘Open Data 2.0’, where open data is used as a tool to address specific problems, such as open contracting, corporate ownership transparency, and improved transport.

The move to ‘Open Data 3.0’ needs those commitments to take one further step: going beyond the publication of datasets, or the adoption of particular data standards, to also include a focus on building data literacy and the capacity of governments and civil society to make a difference with data.

As Mariel Garcia Montes and Dirk Slater argue in The State of Open Data chapter on Data Literacy (published 16th May), “The success of open data efforts is heavily dependent on the existence of an ecosystem of actors focused on driving the use of data through all aspects of society.“ While in some settings, an ecosystem might emerge organically, it more often requires intentional work, resources, and commitment.

That’s why, on May 29th, the Open Data for Development (OD4D) Network, in partnership with the Open Government Partnership, will host an unconference focusing on data literacy creating stronger ‘next generation’ OGP data commitments. The event will consist of self-organised sessions that will explore lessons and learnings from both new and past projects, including

The State of Open Data project will also be taking part, sharing learning on the importance of data literacy as a cross-cutting element of making open data work for governments, the private sector, and civil society.

You can find out more and register for the unConference day here.