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Open data: The road ahead

01 March 2012 | Nik Garkusha, Open Platforms Lead, Microsoft Canada

A few months ago I blogged on my team’s site, WebNotWar.ca, about trends in the Open Government space in Canada and the path toward building sustainable open gov platforms of the future. While it is great to see so much enthusiasm around making big strides toward open gov initiatives, it’s critical to keep in mind opportunities to also evolve those incrementally.

This means making small adjustments in the way existing initiatives are run, either expanding the scope or building on the feedback provided to date. It could be as simple as investing in updating the data in an open data catalogue, defining better processes to manage the publishing of the data, or even upgrading the way the datasets themselves are described via meta-data.

This could also mean defining better ways to engage, gather, and act on the feedback and updates provided by citizen communities. Most open data catalogues today lack capabilities to capture citizen feedback at a level that is granular enough (think each data point or point-of-interest, for example). Even worse, most have no way of effectively incorporating feedback, corrections, and other changes in a repeatable and scalable fashion.

The bottom line is this: to get the most value from your initiative, you must continue to actively engage the stakeholders (citizens, communities, other departments) and demonstrate ongoing commitment to making the initiative better.

That is why I believe the next phase of open data initiatives will focus on evolving data to a more collaborative and citizen-centric model. This evolution will need to be supported by processes to iteratively capture and incorporate feedback from those who consume the data.

This is how governments can realize the full value of open data initiatives, derived from “crowdsourcing” the knowledge and insights from citizens. What better way to increase civic engagement, while improving the quality of government data and efficiency of government services?

Have a comment or opinion on this post? Let me know @Microsoft_Gov. Have a question for the author? Please e-mail us at ongovernment@microsoft.com.

Nik Garkusha
Open Platforms Lead, Microsoft Canada

Microsoft on Government Blog

About the Author

Nik Garkusha | Open Platforms Lead, Microsoft Canada

Nik is responsible for a number of Microsoft’s open source, open data, and open government innovation programs in Canada. An avid "open gov" and open data advocate, Nik is also a founder of Open Halton: A citizen-led open gov community in Ontario.