How to Participate in Open Data Day 2017

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For the seventh year in a row, people around the world are celebrating Open Data Day this spring. While each event can choose their own theme, focus and goals, the organizers of Open Data Day 2017 are focusing our collective efforts on four areas: open research data, tracking public money flows, open data about the environment, and open data for human rights.

What is Open Data Day?

On Saturday, March 4th, there will be over 300 local events where advocates, activists, civil servants, journalists, researchers, librarians, teachers, entrepreneurs, civic hackers convene to celebrate progress, document impact, and talk about the benefits of improving public access to public information in communities. These events may take the form of panels, town halls, hackathons, meetups, or classes. In Washington, DC, the Sunlight Foundation will be hosting a happy hour and an afternoon of discussion and collaboration.

We encourage all communities, and especially the cities we are supporting as part of the What Works Cities Initiative to participate and champion your commitment to opening data to the communities you serve.

How you can participate

There are many ways you can participate in Open Data Day, even if you’re new to opening data for your community. If you’re looking for a place to begin, bookmark the Open Data Day wiki for ideas and planning. Then, check to see if your city is on the list of events. If it is, reach out to the local organizers about how you can help. You could join an event and meet with civic hackers from your community or hold a town hall reaffirming your commitment to open data and implementing a strong open data policy and ask for suggestions, ideas or questions. If you don’t see your city, consider hosting your own event — be sure to add it to the wiki and the events spreadsheet.  

How to celebrate Open Data Day in your city

There are a number of ways you can celebrate Open Data Day and advance access to information in your city. Check out some tried and true approaches below and be sure to leverage the events resources from the Open Data Day organizers here.

  • Organize an event or meetup. Bring together members of your community for a presentation, a talk, a round-table event or even a mini hackathon. You can work on anything from updating your local community’s wiki pages, creating a wiki to document the history of your city or mapping something valuable around your city like wheelchair accessible locations. Make sure you take a photo and share it on your city’s social media channels.
  • Sponsor a local hackathon and meet with the developers and technologists in your community. If there’s not one already happening, get in touch with your local Code for America Brigade and ask how you can participate in an event they’re hosting.
  • Collect public feedback on your draft open data policy. A collaborative process with the public is important to creating a sustainable open data policy.
  • Write an op-ed about your city’s work on open data. Share more about the value of open data specifically for your city, and why the city is pursuing an open data policy or implementing an open data program.
  • Publish a new dataset. Hold a press conference or small event to showcase a newly opened dataset that people can now more easily access.  Demonstrate how the city or members of the community are using the data —  or could. Releasing new open datasets in combination with a hackathon is a great way to get feedback on data quality, format and usability.
  • Issue a proclamation demonstrating the city’s commitment to open data.
  • Host a #datachat on Twitter or Facebook Live with city officials or host an Ask Me Anything Session on reddit. Choose a hashtag so people can follow the conversation easily: don’t use #opendata or #ODD17, which are global channels. Instead, try something like #ODDDC17 (for the DC events). Talk about why your city is opening data, the impact releases have had, outline plans for future releases, or about what you hope to accomplish by implementing a policy. (Be prepared for tough questions from the press about how open data relates to public record requests.) Tap into your community’s ideas for what can be done with the data — or what data they need to accomplish their goals or needs.

What are What Works Cities doing for Open Data Day 2017?

We’re glad to see that several What Works Cities or What Works Cities community groups are hosting open data day events. Check them out below!

Where can you learn more?

Go to for more ideas and information about participating in Open Data Day 2017. Make sure you share the results of your event!Where can I learn more?