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Embedding Open Data Practice

Embedding Open Data Practice

Embedding Open Data Practice

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Book Details:

Publisher:UCT IP Unit
Pages:38 pages
Size:418 KB


As governments open up vast and complex datasets, the expectation is that our lives as citizens will improve as a consequence of the data being made publicly available. However, there are several stumbling blocks in the path of extracting benefits from open data. On the side of the provider these barriers may include the effort and cost required to convert closed to open data; the cost of providing a user-focused context to ensure the uptake of complex datasets; poor data quality; absence of legal and policy frameworks; a lack of capacity to implement and sustain open data practices; and resistance by data custodians to opening data. On the side of the data user, barriers include lack of access, low levels of data literacy, lack of human, social and financial capital to effectively use open data, and also to open up and combine several datasets that together can create value for citizens. One barrier that may be impeding the provision of open data, and one that we believe has received insufficient attention in the research on change process surrounding open data at the organisational level, is the constellation of institutional domains in which government as a complex organisation functions. In other words, from an open data perspective, we believe that too little attention has been paid by the open data movement to the institutional dynamics of governments and other public agencies; nor has the research community drawn sufficient attention to the institutional dynamics at play in the implementation of open data initiatives in public agencies.

Given the promise of open data – that is, the potential of open data to increase the credibility of institutions in the eyes of citizens through greater the transparency and greater accountability – we would suggest that the open data movement needs to develop a more nuanced understanding of how to institutionalise open data practices, particularly if open data practice is to become an enduring and taken-for-granted course of action by government agencies. While useful as mapping exercises, current enabler and barrier analyses on open data have not, we believe, drilled deep enough to provide reliable insights sensitive to the implementation context. There have undoubtedly been early successes on the open data supply side, but these successes are not yet unqualified successes; questions remain regarding the sustainability of open data supply and about how ubiquitous supply is across government organisations. In the African context, there are fewer large-scale success stories, although there is evidence of commitments to opening up government data and of open data portals at state and/or regional government levels.



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