Open data is changing the way societies are governed by helping create transparent initiatives. Creating an open data infrastructure at public offices is a major step towards welfare—here’s the architecture that allows public officials to become more transparent.
Recently, the tech data community has been concerned with the way to limit access to private and personally identifiable information, ensuring it can’t be manipulated without consent or misused. Thus, business owners and public officials are encouraged to create a reclusive data storage and protection environment.
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On the other side of the spectrum, there’s open data. It includes all non-personal information that should be shared and accessed with no limitations. In this post, we’ll explore the way communities can benefit from implementing open data in public services and outline the best practices for designing scalable and reliable OD infrastructures.
Game-Changing Potential of Open Data at Public Offices
Open data helps governments, non-profits, and other organizations detect and track trends, pinpoint pressing issues, and look for ways to reshape society on a global scale. Adopted by the European Union and the UK, it helps increase people’s awareness as to how the government spends tax money, enforces policies, and elects officials.
By giving individuals a possibility to share and access data openly, public offices improve transparency, reduce the negative impact of bureaucracy, and build long-lasting relationships with voters.
To understand the full potential of open data, take a look at its most promising applications:
Improving citizens’ relationships with public offices:
- Real-time updates on service status
- Facilitated communication with administrative institutions
- Easy-to-access knowledge of how and where to access any service
Example: Transport for London is one of the exemplary initiatives that employed open data to improve the accessibility of public services and increase the convenience of using the city’s transportation system.
Improving service delivery at public offices:
- Helping office managers and staff optimize their productivity
- Improved resource allocation
- Notified residents about the progress of public service delivery
- Capturing trends and insights that help prioritize inquiries intelligently.
Example: Spend Network is another UK-based project that fully relies on open data. A digital platform gave UK citizens a way to access government tender data and monitor the development status of the projects the government financed.
Intelligent policy development
- Determining which areas would benefit the most from policy interventions
- Making data-driven decisions based on insights captured by the open data infrastructure
- Controlling the enforcement process
Example: Churchill is a platform that allowed community residents to access data on DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) policies. It’s a data visualization tool that connects public officials and residents and improves policy enforcement.
These are not all the ways for public offices to use open data. The field has endless implications for promoting democratic values, raising awareness among voters, increasing the safety and well-being of city residents.
Building Open Data Infrastructures For Public Offices
To deploy open data on a local or state level, public offices need to have a sustainable framework. Here’s a full roadmap public institutions could use to introduce the concept of free-to-access-and-share data to communities and staff.
This is a step-by-step checklist of practices that, paired with software consulting service, help design reliable and scalable open data infrastructures.
Step #1. Understanding the need for and potential applications of open data
- Before deploying an open data platform, public office leaders should consult community stakeholders – education, healthcare, private sector, and community group representatives. This way, officials will be able to identify the full range of needs an open data application could help cover.
- Assessing the community’s readiness to deploy open data is necessary. After all, implementing the technology requires tech talent and significant investments. Other than ensuring a needed amount of human and financial resources, public officials should let the community know about the open data implementation strategy and educate community residents about the benefits of public office data accessibility.
- Gathering open data implementation case studies will help account for risks and improve the efficiency of the future infrastructure.
Step #2. Creating a governance framework
At a public office, there should be someone responsible for open data implementation. The leader of the institution should appoint a Chief of Data Management and Analytics who would monitor the progress of the initiative and be responsible for resource allocation.
Step #3. Building supporting platforms
Public offices need to commit to evidence-based data sharing policies publicly and create data sharing policies. Adopting Open Data Charters will facilitate the process of data governance in the long run.
Hire a software development team to build a portal that helps fellow officials, as well as community residents, access data and gather clear, actionable instructions from standalone statistics and insights.
Step #4. Ensuring data security
- Public office leaders need to account for risks, connected to data storage and implement incident response frameworks before deploying open data platforms publicly
- Implement best public data protection practices and ensure full data recoverability in case of a security attack.
- Make sure that no data, vital to the operation of the community, can be tampered with or put in jeopardy.
Step #5. Training and enforcing innovation
- Public officials need to ensure the data management team has the skillset needed to sort through and process large data volumes. For faster training and on-boarding, hiring a team of data science professionals for consulting service is a reasonable practice.
- Keeping track of data science trends and international data management practices to strengthen the platform.
- Designate a tech university department or R&D center for developing and implementing data science innovations.
Step #6. Communicate with residents
- Create a shareable data marketplace that makes relevant non-personal data accessible by private sector entities and other communities. This way, public officials will create an open environment and can share experiences with other local community leaders.
- Run public communication campaigns to promote responsible data handling practices among residents.
Step #7. Support the running system
- Monitor data gathering, processing, and relay according to the data lifecycle model. Make sure to update open datasets regularly.
- Ensure that financial fluctuations will not put the system in jeopardy, outline the minimal budget needed for the solution to function.
- Create a strong business case in case there will be a need to reach out for external funding.
Open data is a major step towards building transparent societies, promote the principles of democracy, and increase users’ satisfaction with the quality of public services. Open data implementation should be handled responsibly and be founded on research and planning.
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By developing data processing standards, gathering a skilled development team for managing the platform, and accounting for potential risks, public officials ensure the resilience of the system and make it easier for residents to connect with the platform and integrate open data into their daily lives.
Anastasia Stefanuk is a passionate writer and Information Technology enthusiast. She works as a Content Manager at Mobilunity, a provider of dedicated development teams around the globe. Anastasia keeps abreast of the latest news in all areas of technology, Agile project management, and software product growth hacking, at the same time sharing her experience online to help tech startups and companies to be up-to-date.