Introducing a new one-stop shop for writing open data policy


Today we’re excited to announce the launch of our Open Data Policy Hub, a “one-stop shop” for drafting, crafting, and enacting open data policy.

In 2012 we published the first edition of our Open Data Policy Guidelines, a set of best practices to help governments craft policies to ensure public data is released freely, proactively, and accessibly online. Open data has been the foundation of our effort to make local governments more transparent, accountable, participatory, and equitable. Over the past few years — especially as part of our work on the What Works Cities project — we’ve developed several resources to help city staff and advocates in their communities draft open data policies.

We regularly receive emails from civic hackers, city officials, and open government advocates asking for advice on developing open data policies. We created the Open Data Policy Hub as an easy-to-use, accessible platform for anyone looking to begin building an open data policy on their own — replacing content that had been spread out across five different websites.

The site has four main components:

  • Open Data Policy Step-by-Step: Our guide to creating an open data policy — including information on setting objectives, drafting language, collecting feedback, implementing the policy, and promoting the policy.
  • Open Data Policy Generator: Formerly our Open Data Policy Wizard, this form will produce a draft open data policy for you, based on our sample policy. The policy can then be customized to meet local needs.
  • Open Data Policy Guidelines: Our list of 31 best practices for robust open data policies, covering what data should be public, how to make data public, and how to implement open data policy.
  • Open Data Policy Collection: Our collection of over 140 local and state open data policies from around the country is a great reference point for cities looking for current examples of open data policy.

We want to acknowledge the contributions of numerous former Sunlight staff, fellows, and interns who worked on the resources and content that have been incorporated into this site — as well as others who have provided source material, feedback, and guidance. The Guidelines in particular have expanded upon the work of others in this space.

We also want to note that thanks to open-source technology, we were able to build this site much more quickly than would have otherwise been possible. Inspired by the example of NYC Planning Labs using 18F’s open-source website as a basis for theirs, we took a similar approach. 18F’s website has a lot of features that would take significant time to replicate — such as optimization for different screen sizes and a rich library of design components. Being able to build on top of this made our work much easier. And of course, the Policy Hub itself is open source, so anyone else is free to build off of our work!

We hope you find the Open Data Policy Hub to be a helpful tool. Tweet and tag @SunlightCities with your ideas about how you could use it, and send us any feedback to!