Part 3

Understanding Open Data

Editor’s Note

This section explores some of the larger scale implications of opening government data. Industry experts outline emergent impacts on our public sphere, democratic processes, and economy—while also articulating the enabling factors that are needed to bring about potential transformative benefits.

In Chapter 11, Eric Gordon and Jessica Baldwin-Philippi argue that the open data movement suggests more than just access to government data—it is the reframing of data from a government resource to a publicly owned asset to which every citizen has right. As a result of this reframing, many new tools have been developed that encourage citizens to place their personal data into service of collaboration and active citizenship. This chapter describes how this culture of open data has facilitated good civic habits, which point to active learning and sustainable civic engagement.

Building on that theme, in Chapter 12, User Experience expert Cyd Harrell explores design principles as applied to open data, and argues that a citizen-centric approach is key to fully realize the benefits of open data in civic life and engagement.

Next, we hear from Michael Chui, Diana Farrell, and Steve Van Kuiken from the McKinsey Global Institute, who examine how open data can generate economic value in Chapter 13. They offer a framework of enablers that open data leadership should take into account in order to unlock this potential value.

And in Chapter 14, Alissa Black and Rachel Burstein of the New America Foundation discuss the unique opportunities open data and innovation at the local scale to improve the lives of citizens and make government more responsive and adaptive to residents. They caution against excluding smaller, less-resourced cities from the open data movement, and outline several steps to ensure that advances in civic innovation are inclusive of all kinds of local governments.