How To Make Open Data Relevant to the Public

Feb 102014

It’s time to transform open data from a trendy concept among policy wonks and news nerds into something tangible to everyday life for citizens, businesses and grassroots organizations. Here are some ideas to help us get there:
1. Improve access to data

Craig Hammer from the World Bank has tackled this issue, stating that “Open Data could be the game changer when it comes to eradicating global poverty”, but only if governments make available online data that become actionable intelligence: a launch pad for investigation, analysis, triangulation, and improved decision making at all levels.

2. Create open data for the end user

As the World Bank’s Craig Hammer wrote in a blog post for the Harvard Business Review: While the "opening" has generated excitement from development experts, donors, several government champions, and the increasingly mighty geek community, the hard reality is that much of the public has been left behind, or tacked on as an afterthought”. Let`s get out of the building and start working for the end user.

3. Show, don't tell

Regular folks don't know what “open data” means. Actually, they probably don't care what we call it and don't know if they need it. Apple’s Steve Jobs said that a lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them. We need to stop telling them they need it and start showing them why they need it, through actionable user experience.


The International Journalists' Network, IJNet, keeps professional and citizen journalists up to date on the latest media innovations, online journalism resources, training opportunities and expert advice. ICFJ produces IJNet in seven languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, Persian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. IJNet is supported by donors including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
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