So, What is the State of Open Data? Check out our future Table of Contents

Open data is all around us now — It helps us with day-to-day tasks like determining the best route to work or much greater societal challenges like raising awareness of the lack of representation of women in public spaces. So when we set out to design The State of Open Data research initiative, we had to deal with a tough question: What exactly are we going to focus on? There are just SO many possibilities.

The State of Open Data is divided to four sections — Open Data Communities or Sectors, Overarching Issues, Stakeholder Groups, and Global Regions. We tried to cover open data from different angles in order to provide as complete a review as we can.

Below you can find The Sate of Open Data current list of potential chapters per section. We say current, because we want the The State of Open Data to be an agile and iterative research process. We might find as we go along that we are missing something and will try to update it as we go, and we’ll share our rationale for any changes as we go as well.

Open Data Communities or Sectors

In this section, we want to examine communities that revolve around a particular kind of data. What’s being done with that data? Is it being used to solve real problems or advance needed change? As a first step, we reviewed a range of different “scoping” lists of open datasets. As a second step, we tried to group issue areas and relate them to different datasets. We tried to include as much as we can, but we were also aware that we would never be able to cover all the open data communities out there.

Our current list as it stands:

  • Accountability and Anti-Corruption (parliamentary, elections, party financing)
  • Agriculture (food security)
  • Corporate (beneficial ownership, corporation data)
  • Crime & Justice
  • Education
  • Environment (climate, air and water quality, weather)
  • Extractives
  • Geospatial (mapping and earth observation)
  • Government Finances (budget, expenditures, taxation)
  • Health
  • International Aid and Humanitarian Relief
  • Land Ownership
  • National Statistics
  • Science/Research
  • Transport
  • Urban Development (open cities, resiliency, urban planning)

We’ve also been debating whether to describe each of the above as ‘communities’, or ‘sectors’ or ‘thematic areas’. We’ve settled for now on ‘open data communities’, drawing on the idea from the Africa Data Consensus. However, as the first stage of our research will soon show: a big question for each of these chapters will be whether there are clear connections between open datasets and specific issues, or if there are communities around specific thematic areas, how these communities differ or overlap, etc.

Overarching Issues

As the name suggests, in this section, we will cover topics that concern the open data community as a whole. We based our list partially on the International Open Data Roadmap.

The current list as it stands:

  • Technology / Data infrastructure
  • Privacy
  • Data Literacy
  • Gender
  • Measurement and Evalution
  • Indigenous Data Sovereignty

Stakeholder Groups

Here we simply mapped the stakeholders that work on open data, while trying to be as complete as we can.

The current list as it stands:

  • Governments (municipal, state, and national)
  • Civil Society
  • Private Sector
  • Donors and Investors
  • Journalists and the Media
  • Academia/Researchers
  • International Organizations and Associations

Global Regions

This was probably one of the most challenging areas for the team to date. Let’s be honest, no matter what we will do, dividing the world is political. No matter how we slice it, someone will not be happy with our methodology. With that in mind, we again took into consideration the International Open Data Roadmap when looking at potential chapters.

The list as it stands:

  • Asia
  • Eastern Europe and Central Asia
  • Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Middle East and Northern Africa
  • North America, Australia and New Zealand
  • Sub Saharan Africa (Francophone and English)
  • Western Europe

What’s Next?

We are already reaching out to potential authors to start working on many of the chapters. Some will need a single author, others will need to be a collaborative work. We are committed to establishing a diverse list of authors taking into account gender and geographical location. In our next blog post, we will share more information about our research plan. In the meantime, please email us if you have any questions or tweet us at @stateofopendata.

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