[Spotlight] Capacity Building for Open Data Professionals

Open Data Charter
opendatacharter
Published in
5 min readMay 10, 2024

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By Joe Tansey, International Working Group Governmental Co-Chair

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrRUQI595KM

In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, data has become a cornerstone of progress, driving innovation and fostering social development. However, as the adoption of open data practices continues to gain momentum globally, the need to increase the capabilities of individuals in and around open data has become increasingly important.

The ODC’s Implementation Working Group (IWG) is committed to advancing the open data agenda and supporting building capacities for open data professionals, recognising the pivotal role they play in realising the full potential of open data initiatives. In our action plan & agenda 2024, the IWG outlines a strategic roadmap and goals for the upcoming year which include expanding and improving capabilities of public servants to deal with data and the applications of digital technologies.

Capabilities & capacity building for open data professionals

April’s IWG meeting brought together four open data advocates to discuss the current challenges and opportunities around capability & capacity building for open data professionals. Read on to find out what each of the presenters discussed.

Addressing the critical skills gap in open data through education

Panos Fitsilis, Professor, Project Coordinator & Lecturer, “DevOps Competences for Smart Cities” at the University of Thessaly, Greece

The Skills Development Lab MANDEIS at the University of Thessaly is bridging the critical gap in knowledge and skills through a series of initiatives tailored to meet this burgeoning need. The first of these is the openDCO project, funded by Erasmus+, dedicated to crafting an innovative curriculum for Open Data City Officers, addressing the expanding role of open data in modern cities. This comprehensive curriculum equips individuals with skills in data management, governance, and ethical practices to foster transparent and data-driven governance in modern cities (learn more at opendatacity.eu).

Secondly, MANDEIS lab’s Open Science Initiatives focus on enhancing transparency and accessibility in scientific research, highlighting the low rates of open access to articles and inconsistent data sharing practices. Through comprehensive training for Open Science Officers, covering areas like open access policies, data management plans, licensing options, and scholarly communication mechanisms, the program seeks to enhance collaboration and sharing among institutions, bridging talent gaps, and reducing subscription costs for scientific journals.

Lastly, the Data Stewardship in Higher Education initiative focuses on crafting curricula and training programs to cultivate skills in managing and sharing FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) data. By addressing the digital skills gap and equipping professionals with competencies in effective research data management and sharing, this initiative aims to bolster data stewardship practices in higher education institutions.

Planning for open data in the public administration

Augusto Herrmann Batista, Data Engineer, Secretariat of Management and Innovation — SEGES — of the Ministry of Management and Innovation in Public Services, Federal Gov, Brazil.

The national open data policy was built in Brazil in 2011 in an open and collaborative manner with any interested citizen. Even the open data portal was built with CKAN and free and open source software by the hands of people of different backgrounds who volunteered for it, such as designers, programmers, communication professionals, etc. It was at the time the only government portal around the world built in this manner.

The cycle of planning for open data in the public administration was mandated by decree for all government ministries and agencies since 2016. Since then, over 700 hundred public servants have attended in-person workshops on how to build and execute those plans, and almost 1,800 have completed an online course.

However, there still remain challenges for an effective open data policy: data integration across national and local levels of government, developing data standards, establishing an effective feedback loop with data users, developing maturity in data management and data governance in public organizations, data anonymization and data licensing.

The challenges for Open Data professionals

Daniela García, Open Data Director, Secretariat of Innovation, Science and Technology, Argentina.

The challenges of Open Data professionals in Argentina can be framed into 4 large verticals or “wheels”. The first is the theoretical aspect, the objectives, purposes and principles of Open Government such as accountability, participation and transparency. To achieve this, we carried out an Open Day Celebration in which we developed conceptual workshops and presentations held by different teams that shared their experiences around Open Data. In our country, we have a tradition of professionals who work specifically on Open Data.

Another vertical to mention is the technical part and the adoption of common standards to achieve data interoperability. Once teams start opening up their data and working more independently, the new challenge is identifying the demand — who the data is being opened to and what they need. Knowing the community that uses, reuses the data and validates the available information. The challenge we are currently facing is the use that the State gives to public data. The benefits that can be obtained are improvements in public services and innovation, making administrative management more efficient and promoting public policies with evidence. The main objective is that the State as a data producer becomes a user of its own published information.

An AI and digital competency framework for the public sector

Tommaso Balbo di Vinadio, Program Advisor and Lecturer¸Sciences Po Executive Education, France.

Open data has been instrumental in many instances across the globe, helping to enhance transparency, drive innovation, and improve decision-making processes. However, whilst there has been significant progress in this space progress remains impeded by existing capability gaps, hindering a comprehensive understanding and effective implementation of these transformative technologies.

To combat the lack of appropriate skills and capabilities to design and develop digital transformation problems we developed an AI and Digital Transformation Competency Framework. This framework identifies the essential competencies for public sector officials to effectively design and implement digital and AI transformation projects, with a specific emphasis empowering stakeholders in the Global South.

In developing a competency framework for the digital era, three key areas stood out. Firstly, civil servants need to be ahead of the curve in this rapidly evolving technological landscape, anticipate unexpected events, recognise strategic opportunities to use digital solutions and develop strategies and vision. Secondly, ensuring that civil servants are well-versed in digital literacy is more than just a nod to the tech era; it’s a necessity for effective public service. Finally, civil servants need to incorporate management practices that enhance the success of digital transformation initiatives. This includes managing and implementing projects and policies in an agile and collaborative way.

Get involved

The Open Data Charter community is growing globally with over 170 governments and civil society organisations adopting the international Open Data Charter principles to date. However, we are always looking to welcome new open data adopters to promote the transfer of knowledge and capabilities globally.

Our next IWG is on the 28th May and will explore the topic: ‘Data ecosystem and data governance in smart cities. What is the status of open data’. The agenda will be shared on our X account and LinkedIn account in the coming weeks. If you would like to attend the session, present at one of our future sessions or find out more please read here or e-mail us at info@opendatacharter.org.

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Open Data Charter
opendatacharter

Collaborating with governments and organisations to open up data for pay parity, climate action and combatting corruption.