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Tag Archive: open data policy guidelines

Reasons to Not Release Data, Part 2: Confusion

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Earlier this month, we shared a crowdsourced collection of the top concerns data advocates have heard when they’ve raised an open data project with government officials at the federal, state, and local level, and we asked for you to share how you’ve responded. Dozens of you contributed to the project, sharing your thoughts on social media, our public Google doc, and even on the Open Data Stack Exchange, where 8 threads were opened to dive deeper into specific subjects. Drawing from your input, our own experience, and existing materials from our peers at the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership and some data warriors from the UK, we’ve compiled a number of answers -- discussion points, if you will -- to help unpack and respond to some of the most commonly cited open data concerns. This mash-up of expertise is a work in progress, but we bet you’ll find it a useful conversation starter (or continuer) for your own data advocacy efforts. Click here to see other posts in this series. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing challenges and responses from our #WhyOpenData list that correspond to different themes. Today’s theme is Confusion.

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Reasons to Not Release Data, Part 1: Apathy

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As many open access advocates, journalists, and government employees will tell you, broaching the subject of data disclosure can raise a lot of concerns for government data providers. Pioneers looking to move their government toward exploring information release have already come up with rebuttals to many of these challenges, but the collective knowledge is hard to share, usually trapped in email groups, discussion boards, blogs, and the memories and experiences of individuals. In the wake of re-releasing our Open Data Policy Guidelines, we wanted to probe these concerns and see what information we could share that data advocates could keep in their back pocket. So, earlier this month, we shared a crowdsourced collection of the top concerns data advocates have heard when they’ve raised an open data project with government officials at the federal, state, and local level, and we asked for you to share how you’ve responded. Dozens of you contributed to this project, sharing your thoughts on social media, our public Google doc, and even on the Open Data Stack Exchange, where 8 threads were opened to dive deeper into specific subjects. We also learned about resources akin to this one from our peers at the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership and this awesome, bingo-card inspired round-up from the UK made by Christopher Gutteridge and Alexander Dutton. (The latter has even been translated into German!) Drawing from your input, these materials, and our own experience, we’ve compiled a number of answers -- discussion points, if you will -- to help unpack and respond to some of the most commonly cited open data concerns. This is mash-up of expertise is a work in progress, but we bet you’ll find it a useful conversation starter (or continuer) for your own data advocacy efforts. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing challenges and responses from our list that correspond to different themes. You can follow along on our blog and on Twitter via #WhyOpenData. Today’s theme is Apathy.

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Your Guidelines to Open Data Guidelines Pt. 2: Stages of Development

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In revisiting Sunlight’s Open Data Policy Guidelines for our Version 2.0 release, we took a closer look at other sources for open data guidance that have been released over the years. To see a comprehensive round up of open data guidance (complete with a timeline!) see Part 1 of Your Guideline to Open Data Guidelines: The History.

Although it’s only been eight years since the first resource of this kind was created with the Open Knowledge Foundation's Open Knowledge Definition, exploring open data guidance in its totality not only shows how much these recommendations build on each other, but how the movement has matured. Moreover, many of these resources occupy separate-–but overlapping-–arenas of expertise, though an outside perspective may not immediately catch their nuances. Below, we’ll explore in more detail the three major themes of open data guidance: How to Define Open Data, How to Implement Open Data, and How to Open an Open Data Discussion.

The sequence, prevalence, and layering of these themes showcase the developmental stages of the open data movement thus far. Over the years we have seen open data advocacy emerge from its nascent expert-driven defining period to becoming (quite self-referentially) a public discussion. We’ve seen different missions of the major players in the open data movement inform nuanced definitions and implementation recommendations, and we have seen an increase in best practice assessments, academic critique, and diverging schools of thought.

To understand this larger story, let us look at each piece.

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Reasons (Not) to Release Data

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Earlier this year, Sunlight was issued a challenge: Collect and refute the most common reasons not to release data. As many open access advocates, journalists, and government employees themselves will tell you, there are a variety of "no's" given when the question of data disclosure arises. Many are predictable, some are political, some personal, many practical, and all deserving of attention. Pioneers looking to move their government toward exploring and advancing information release have already come up with rebuttals to many of these refusals, but the collective knowledge is hard to share, usually trapped in email groups, discussion boards, blogs, and the memories and experiences of individuals. So, we're going to meet our challenge with an experiment.

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South Bend, Indiana Signs Open Data Policy

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On Thursday, August 22nd, South Bend, Indiana became the 15th municipality (and, with a population of roughly 101,000, the smallest!) in the US to sign an open data policy into law. Executive Order No. 2-2013, enacted by Mayor Pete Buttigieg, was largely crafted to introduce a new transparency website, data.southbendin.gov, as a platform for publishing public information -- a fairly common motive for cities making this kind of policy. What’s uncommon about South Bend is not just its size, but the fact that their new policy firmly grounds “open data” in the state’s public records law.

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Announcing the Open Data Policy Guidelines, Version 2.0

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As more communities recognize the power and possibilities of sharing public data online, there is an increasing need to articulate what it means to open data -- and how to create policies that can not only support these efforts, but do so in a sustainable and ambitious way. To this end, we are releasing the second version of Sunlight’s Open Data Policy Guidelines. Originally authored last summer and informed by the great work of our peers and allies, the Guidelines are a living document created to help define the landscape of what open data policies can and should do. For this latest version, we’ve reordered and slightly rephrased the Guidelines’ 32 provisions for clarity. We’ve also grouped them into three categories as a way of demonstrating that open data policies can define What Data Should Be Public, How to Make Data Public and How to Implement Policy.

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Aloha Hawaii Open Data Legislation!

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Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie is signing the nation’s third statewide open data policy into law today (at 11 a.m. HST/5 p.m. EST). The bill, Hawaii House Bill 632, was originally drafted in November 2012, but the open data movement in Hawaii and push for legislation has been chugging along for years now. Chief Information Officer Sonny Bhagowalia and Burt Lum, the executive director of Hawaii Open Data, crafted Hawaii’s Open Data Bill to support the data release that has been going on over the last year (via the city’s Socrata-hosted open data portal, currently boasting over 150 datasets) and in concurrence with a larger program that updates the state’s IT infrastructure.

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From Unconference Session to Open Data Policy

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Here at Sunlight, we embrace the idea that brilliant work can grow from seeds sown during organically constructed, discussion-driven sessions -- the foundation of any unconference. Our own unconference, TransparencyCamp, has itself yielded the creation of the Brazilian civic hacking group Transparência Hackers  and CityCamp, and has served for the launch pad for Waldo Jaquith’s OpenVA, a hub for new data and APIs for Virginia, AbreLatAm, an open data unconference in Uruguay, and even inspiration for Josh Tauberer’s “Open Data is Civic Capital: Best Practices for ‘Open Government Data'”.

But what happens when the seed you are trying to plant is legislative change? How do open government unconference attendees (a mix of engaged residents, city officials, and other civic players) help make a legislative seedling grow? What next steps should be taken? Moreover, how can engaged citizens help to promote open data?

We've been thinking about these questions since Alisha Green and Rebecca Williams of Sunlight’s municipal team and Open States lead, James Turk, had the opportunity to sit in on an open data policy brainstorming discussion at CityCampNC in Raleigh, North Carolina, lead by open government guru and Code for America brigade captain, Jason Hibbets, and Raleigh Open Data Manager, Jason Hare. The “Statewide Open Data Policy” session was a popular and well attended one, and took place in every unconference’s coveted spot: the big room. Attendees included software developers, government staff members, members of local civic organizations, and civic hackers. It was a pleasure to see a session focused on open data policy-making because not only would the creation of such a policy directly support the work done at unconferences like CityCampNC, but because such a policy would have the chance to be made stronger by having so many of Raleigh’s relevant open data stakeholders assembled in one place at the same time. Below, we explore some of the strongest takeaways and lessons learned from approaching policy making in an unconference (or similar) setting.

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