Open Data Policy Lab Publishes New Guide on Periodic Table of Open Data

This piece was originally published by the Open Data Policy Lab, a collaboration between The GovLab and Microsoft to support decision-makers at the local, state and national levels as they accelerate the responsible re-use and opening of data for the benefit of society and the equitable spread of economic opportunity. For more information on its work, please visit

The Periodic Table of Open Data: A User’s Guide

In 2016, The GovLab published the Periodic Table of Open Data Impact Factors, a framework for understanding the many elements that support and hinder open data initiatives. Since then, the open data ecosystem has grown and transformed. To meet the changing needs of data practitioners around the world, the Open Data Policy Lab is excited to announce the updated re-release of the periodic table in a new format: The Periodic Table of Open Data: A User’s Guide.

This User’s Guide is a checklist and tool to weigh different elements based on their context and priorities.

The revised Periodic Table of Open Data Elements

Developed through workshops, conversations with experts around the world, and our own research, the User’s Guide identifies some of the key issues facing open data practitioners as they work to release and re-use open data for the public good. Like previous versions of the table, it characterizes each of these issues as “elements” of an open data initiative and categorizes them according to one of five key areas:

  • Problem and Demand Definition: Elements that allow a project to be targeted and optimized;
  • Capacity and Culture: Elements referring to an organization’s ability to pursue open data;
  • Governance and Standards: Elements about how an organization makes decisions about open data;
  • Personnel and Partnerships: Elements that relate to the specific actors — both individuals and institutions — whose support can enable an open data initiative’s success; and
  • Risk Mitigation: Elements that reflect practices adopted by organizations to prevent or mitigate potential harms.

The most important feature of our new User’s Guide is its ability to serve as a diagnostic tool. With a series of fillable, interactable worksheets, data practitioners can assess the different elements of their open data project to achieve more sustainable and successful open data initiatives. By indicating how important each element is to their project, readers can “weigh” each element and develop an assessment of which kinds of elements to focus most of their attention on to equip data (re)use projects for success.

The Open Data Policy Lab encourages individuals to read the new user guide to develop insights. Over the coming weeks, we will also be producing customized workshops and webinars to help organizations deploy the periodic table into the areas they work.

If you are interested in operationalizing open data in your organization, we encourage you to contact us at for more information.



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