Introducing a guide to co-design for local open data programs


If open data programs hope to effectively deliver information to the public, they must be rooted in user needs. In addition to conducting user research, governments can help make this a reality by using co-design methods.

“Co-design” refers to a participatory approach to designing solutions, in which community members are treated as equal collaborators in the design process. Collaborative planning with data users is essential to ensure that planned interventions address exactly what community members need.

Today, we’re launching a new guide designed to help local governments understand principles of co-design and learn how to create participatory design processes for open data. This guide explains co-design in an open data context, provides examples from the field, and offers tips for cities looking to apply co-design principles in the context of their specific data work.

Co-design is an essential element of a tactical, human-centered approach to open data. Closing feedback loops between data owners and their community partners helps build trust between participants in the open data ecosystem and furthers good open government practice.

One example of effective co-design is hosting a civic scope-a-thon, a public event in which different groups collaborate to practice project scoping. Scope-a-thons have the potential to empower participants to reimagine challenges in the context of data and develop skills and methods to incorporate data into their work in new and different ways. Beyond the project scoping and problem solving that can occur during the event, scope-a-thons connect community partners, advocates, and data users — building new relationships and opening doors to further collaborations between groups. Read more on hosting a successful scope-a-thon in our Tactical Data Engagement Playbook on scope-a-thons.

Are you using co-design methods in your community’s open data program? Let us know by emailing!