Greetings from #OpenData Land


One somewhat hidden provision from our Open Data Policy Guidelines addresses the fact that open access policies don’t exist in a vacuum:

Publishing open data has many practical and normative implications which can be noted and explored in the text of the open data policy. These values and goals can be noted for the record as part the policy.

Said another way, open data policies support an ecosystem of valuable social and political tenets, such as government accountability, efficiency, civic innovation, and engagement, to name a few, that justify pursuit of such policies — and it can be incredibly valuable to make that connection explicit. Indeed, when policymakers clearly articulate their assumptions and motives (and back them up with substantial policies to match), they increase the potential for greater public understanding of their decisions and make related initiatives stronger.

As we started digging deeper into the municipal policies already on the books in this arena, we couldn’t help but notice the wide array of justifications and explanations given in the pursuit of data liberation on the city level, often expressed in “whereas” clauses. We’ll have more about these policies in the coming weeks, but to whet your appetite, here’s a fun round-up of #opendata policy postcards from around the country.

For an overview of some of the city open data policies out there (and for links to their full text), check out this great Civic Commons wiki page.