Announcing the Global Open Data Initiative


Sunlight is excited today to announce, with a few of our friends and allies, the Global Open Data Initiative, dedicated to helping lead on open data issues in a global context.

For much of the last year, we have been grappling with the opportunities and challenges created by governments around the world as they commit to new open data policies and initiatives. Indeed, the most frequent commitment governments have made in their action plans for the Open Government Partnership are about open data. And while this enthusiasm is clearly useful, these commitments are being made with often unclear expectations, with both governments and civil society groups searching for guidance and standards to judge governments and their open data performance.

We’ve decided to see this as an opportunity, since an abundance of political enthusiasm should be a huge opportunity for civil society groups to take this idea of “open data” and make it as meaningful as possible.

At Sunlight, in our domestic experience, this has meant approaching open data as a means to create accountability, deepen civic life, and empower new forms of activism, analysis, and reporting. We’ve nurtured a conception of open data that is grounded in technologists’ work and that is savvy to political power.

We’re thrilled to be bringing our vision for open data into a partnership with groups from around the world who have extensive experience with different aspects of open data. Working together, Sunlight and our partners — Fundar, Open Knowledge Foundation, World Wide Web Foundation, and Open Institute — will use the platform of the Global Open Data Initiative to:

  • Provide a leading vision for how governments approach open data
  • Increase awareness of open data and related issues.
  • Support the development of the global open data community.
  • Gather, expand, and amplify the evidence base for open data.

Open data — and what it means — cannot be owned by any one organization or group. In a sense, it’s just a new approach to creating access to public knowledge. If we’ve done our job right, the Global Open Data Initiative will serve as a platform to advance this end — to highlight valuable work, create new ideas, and help amplify others’ voices on open data around the world. We hope you’ll consider joining our discussion list and look forward to working together.

We’re also excited to begin working with other similar initiatives from other related disciplines — such as the International Aid Transparency Initiative, Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Natural Resources Charter, Construction Sector Transparency Initiative, International Budget Partnership, and — because open data intersects with their work and because we’ve taken significant cues from their design in approaching our own.

Finally, we are thrilled to acknowledge and announce the financial support of Omidyar Network and the Open Society Foundations, whose guidance and advice have been invaluable in designing this new initiative.

More about the Global Open Data Initiative on our website: