Our new Roadmap to Informed Communities offers tools for community-centered open data


Last fall, we launched a guide to Tactical Data Engagement (TDE), a four-step process for cities to facilitate opportunities for community use of open data to improve residents’ lives.

Since that launch, we’ve piloted the TDE approach with Madison, Glendale (AZ), Austin, and Norfolk, and collected input from several experts in the field working to make city governments more open through open data and civic engagement.

That’s why we’re excited to launch our Roadmap to Informed Communities, a new set of tools for local governments to collaborate with community members around important issues using open data. As part of this release, we’ve also updated our Guide to Tactical Data Engagement with clearer concepts and modularity for readers to experiment on their own.

To make our resources easy to navigate and use, we’ve divided our Tactical Data Engagement strategies into two main phases of open data projects that readers might work through: discovery and action.

The Discovery Phase of Tactical Data Engagement entails finding relevant issue areas to focus open data, and conducting user research to inform their open data efforts. The Action Phase describes taking action with open data, through community partnerships with data intermediaries, data-sharing agreements, data user groups, or other collaborative community open data efforts. For more on how these phases connect to Tactical Data Engagement, see our updated Guide to Tactical Data Engagement.

Some resources to be found in the Roadmap include:

A central feature of this release is a new library of user personas that cities and government agencies created and applied to design open data programs that cater directly to residents’ needs.

Throughout our conversations, we heard that governments at all levels are experimenting with making user personas to help make community-centered design more tangible and relatable for open data decision-makers inside City Hall. We created tips for creating user personas so that any data providers interested in using this strategy can begin workshopping and doing the necessary research on their own.

Don’t wait — go ahead and explore the site’s features!

The Roadmap to Informed Communities is a living platform. Within the next few months, we’ll release a slate of resources for the action phase of work, as well as continuing to add discovery-phase resources. Stay tuned!

Finally, we’ve greatly benefited from the input and participation from practitioners in open government and open data who have provided commentary and feedback on this work. We will continue working to make these resources usable for city governments across the U.S. and adaptable for international local contexts.

If you’d like to partner with us or have feedback on the site, feel free to email us at opencities@sunlightfoundation.com with suggestions, questions, or comments.