The Open Data Institute is Integral to the Open Government Partnership

A timely blog post by Jason Hare reiterating why every OGP member country needs an Open Data Institute to help build a framework for open data governance on a national level. First published last Sunday on his blog ‘All About Open Data’ the post explains why Ireland, too, needs to leverage an Open Data Istitute in order to pave the way for ‘better and more accessible [public] data’.
 

 
National and regional nodes of the Open Data Institute (@UKODI) must be established in every Open Government Partnership member country.

With the ODI Summit and the OGP Summit occurring during the same week in London at the end of October, I have been thinking about the role the ODI must play in Open Government Data.

Let’s have a few definitions and a little backstory to the ODI, the OGP and the current state of Open Government Data.

 

Why do we need governance?

We are now closing in on the 5th year of a vigorous world wide movement to open data within government. There have been some successes and some mainstreaming. The adoption of open data by default with Whitehouse Memorandum M13-13, the G8 Charter on Open Data and certainly 59 countries agreeing to participate internationally as OGP members are signs that we are moving in the right direction.

There is room for improvement. The OGP requirements leave room for interpretation, the Whitehouse has not followed through on significant action since the release of Memorandum M13-13 and nothing since the G8 summit has happened to suggest that the Charter has any concrete framework for action moving forward.

With the first ODI Summit coming before the OGP Summit, we have a chance to develop a model that does not leave OGP compliance solely in the hands of government. The ODI in the UK plays an indirect but effective role as a watchdog of the UK transparency portal. Ireland, through OpenIRL and the Open Knowledge Foundation has worked with international partners and the government to put together a new model for Open Data governance at the national level.

In the US we have a fractured series of open data initiatives and little if any discussion toward having standards or accreditation regarding completeness, provenance, privacy impact or accessibility. There is no framework yet to evaluate the efforts of any Federal State or Local US open data initiative.

I propose we develop one using the OGP and the ODI and use the ODI node framework as a way to evaluate and create a road-map toward better and more accessible data.
 

What is the model going forward?

The model of open government data governance came from a CKAN Hackathon I attended in Dublin at the end of last month. Denis Parfenov, Mick Byrne and myself created a model that was acceptable to the OpenIRL, the ODI and we hope the Irish General Secretary Wyatt and Information Minister Brennan Howlin.

The model is a triangle. The OKFN represents openireland.ie which is a citizen driven open data portal managed by OpenIRL and the OKFN. It will provide a content to the data stored on the National Data Portal of Ireland: data.gov.ie. the National Portal will be a supported Socrata SaaS portal with 24×7 engineering support from Socrata, the Irish National Government and participating sanctioned private industry partners. Overseeing the civic and government information hubs will be the ODI Ireland national node headquartered in Dublin.  ODI Ireland will be a research and incubator for thought leaders, business and civic innovators as well as an accreditation service for the two data portals.

The ODI will also provide a transparency board to over see all activities on the national portal as well as the civic portal.

This is the model I propose for the United States as well. With the Federal Government shutdown we can no longer relay on the Federal Government to maintain an acceptable service level agreement for accessing open government data. Therefore, an internationally sanctioned oversight authority needs to be established with independent funding to ensure data access is not disrupted by politics. Partnering with the ODI USA and using private partnerships like Socrata will ensure continued access to data at all levels of government within the US. Certainly CKAN driven portals that use RDF to link to state portals need to have unfettered and free access to data.

Socrata driven federal websites were not offline during the government shutdown. Data.gov was shut down. That is not acceptable.

Please join me in supporting this model that encourages a global approach to open data through the ODI sanctioning OGP and local government efforts.

One thought on “The Open Data Institute is Integral to the Open Government Partnership

  1. I think one can separate the issue of ‘independence’ from that of hosting model. A portal may be hosted by a private contractor like Socrata, but if the client stops paying, or asks them to take it down, the portal will disappear. Of course, several providers (including us – the Open Knowledge Foundation) offer hosted CKAN portals too, but the US government choose to host their own, which is easy since the software is open source. Socrata as a closed platform doesn’t offer that option. Does that make it independent?

    Of course, you’re right that it wasn’t acceptable to lose data.gov, but one could say the same about the rest of the shutdown too. Alas, fixing that will take more than a slight change of data portal technology or hosting model 🙂

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