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Open Data Maturity Model – Harnessing Open Data for Social Impact

Open Data Maturity

The Open Data field has now matured considerably and a number of best practice resources are available to better guide implementation strategies such that it can yield tangible impact and benefits.

The Open Data Institute offers this maturity model for developing these practices, and this blog from Joshua Tauberer describes how it can assist in defining and planning the the technological maturity journey:

The first foundation this establishes for transformation planning is that they define a continuum of technology maturity that integrates multiple other domains rather than treating it like yet another silo, such as Global Identifiers and APIs for example. This encourages and enables governments not to treat Open Data as a standalone project but as one component part of an overall enabling Open Platform Architecture in general.

Social Impact

Other resources offer guidance for how to link its use to meaningful social outcomes.

The Open Data Institute provides Assessment Tools for Open Data Initiatives, and the Sunlight Foundation published a four-step guide to help data professionals maximize the “social impact” and efficacy of those efforts. The 31-page document — called A Guide to Tactical Data Engagement — was written to help city leaders and residents collaborate on open data projects that improve government accountability and transparency, saying:

“Tactical Data Engagement is designed to help cities go beyond open data policy and even open data portals, to facilitate opportunities for the community use of open data to improve residents’ lives”.

These new approaches highlight the key role that Open Data can play. For example MyLA311 describes how LA utilized Open Data publishing to tackle the issue of integrating data from multiple legacy systems, for purposes of auditing call centre performance dynamics.

Tackling Homelessness

Furthermore specific use cases can be zeroed in on to identify repeatable best practice models for key social needs, such as helping to tackle homelessness.

For example the City of Austin publishes the metric ‘Percent of Homeless Clients Residing in Shelters that Receive Case Management Services‘ to their Open Data portal. This identifies that a very low number of the chronically homeless are provided case management services, yielding the insights required to better target case work support to those needs.

These highlight the critical success factors for Open Data. In the Reuters white paper Does Open Data Need Journalism, they explore early Open Data projects and how many failed to deliver business or social value because they lacked a clear project objective and poor data quality methods. In short many were a result of governments simply seeking to ‘tick the Open Data box’ and defined success only as publishing the data, with no regard for its quality or its role in solving a particular need.

Socrata is a vendor offering a Cloud-based Open Data platform, and in this blog they talk through the case study of the City of Auburn, who decided to tackle the growing issue through a more effective use of technology and Open Data. As well as charting the issue they also used the platform to build a directory of related organizations and resources.

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