By Matt Pietryszyn, Esri Canada
I’d like to share a few recommendations on how you can elevate your Open Data portal and increase its usefulness and ensure that the content is widely accessible.
1. Being “as open as possible” is a good step towards maturing your organization and growing your staff’s data literacy while providing ROI for your Open Data initiative. Open your data internally to help grow trust amongst divisions and appreciation for the value of sharing authoritative data across the organization. Show staff inside your organization how to access and share data more often and start to incorporate data into their business processes. Set your organization’s data free!
2. Use existing content on your government website and open the raw data behind it. Don’t forget to “humanize” the data to make it more accessible to everyone (use views, aliases, include metadata) Include good descriptions of data to help users understand it. Coded field headings are too cryptic and could prevent someone from working with your data. Use plain language for your table names and fields.
"Humanizing" your data by providing field aliases helps users understand your data and makes it more accessible to a wider audience.
3. Consider a Creative Commons license when it comes to sharing. Custom data-sharing licenses can impact who will use your data. It’s difficult for external agencies to read through and agree to various custom licenses, but a Creative Commons license helps to make your data more accessible and available to a wider range of users. Use https://creativecommons.org/choose/ to define your creative commons license and use the code in your portal to help users find and use data based on creative common licenses.
Providing a Creative Commons license for your open datasets will remove any barriers to potential users that are created by custom open data licenses.
4. Create and share personas to help users understand who is accessing open data and who isn’t. What is it that residents want for their communities, and what can they find in open data portals to help? Personas can help you understand what data could be included to help residents take action and collaborate in city-driven initiatives. Include tutorials and examples of data visualizations to help users connect with the data right away, and of course, promote and build awareness for your data portal using the personas and data visualization examples.
5. the release of datasets with corporate strategic plans and initiatives. Work collaboratively with your Communications team to craft and share data-driven stories that help residents connect with the strategic priorities of your organization.
6. Publish in open formats (WMS, WFS and WCS) and federate your data with CKAN by providing your data in the DCAT specification to allow for Open Source data portals to harvest and reshare your data for a broader reach. Make sure your metadata is accurate and current.
7. Participate in collaborative programs such as the Community Map of Canada– a national web basemap with authoritative and current data. This basemap is updated daily and it can power your enterprise applications with authoritative data that doesn’t end at your city’s boundary. By sharing your spatial data, you can help build this basemap and in return, have access to more and improved quality of data.
These seven tips are just a few among many best practices that you can leverage to build a stellar Open Data portal that helps your organization connect, engage and collaborate within and outside of your organization. Remember that opening your data is one big leap towards achieving your organization’s goal of digital transformation and towards becoming a smart and resilient city.
Here are some resources that can help you along the way:
If you would like more information on how to get started with ArcGIS Open Data, don’t hesitate to contact me at [email protected].
About the Author
Matt Pietryszyn is the Municipal Industry Manager for Esri Canada. He has over 15 years’ experience working in the public sector, helping municipalities unlock the potential in their location platforms. While advising municipalities on modernizing their business processes and building innovative GIS solutions is a passion of Matt's, he is also an advocate for sharing Open Data and promoting active community engagement.