14 February 2014

Beyond Transparency: Open data and citizen experience

The growth of digital government initiatives – and open data specifically – is gathering pace. The UK’s top-of-government Government Digital Services (GDS) department, and projects such as the USA’s Data.gov, are creating transparency and opportunity that never existed before. 

Focusing specifically on the area of open data in the public sector, Brett Goldstein and Lauren Dyson edited a recently-published book on the topic: “Beyond Transparency”. With contributions from Chicago to London, each chapter is dedicated to a single topic within the theme.

Several items which specifically attracted our attention (the entire book is readable online for free, or as a PDF, and can also be purchased at Amazon.com) are:

Chapter 12: The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship: Data and Design in Innovative Citizen Experiences (by Cyd Harrell)

Excerpt: “It’s nearly impossible to design innovative citizen experiences without data, but that data will not reach its full potential without careful choices about how to aggregate, present, and enable interaction with it. Methods drawn from the user experience field are the easiest way to translate open data into a format that’s usable and accessible for the average (or non-average) citizen. The most successful and broadly used open data projects have always relied on design, whether or not people formally trained in design were part of the teams… With design, we can give the public back its data in real use, as well as in name.

Chapter 13: Generating Economic Value through Open Data (by Michael Chui, Diana Farrell, Steve Van Kuiken)

Excerpt: “… It is increasingly clear that open data can also enable the creation of economic value beyond the walls of the governments and institutions that share their data. This data can not only be used to help increase the productivity of existing companies and institutions, it also can spur the creation of entrepreneurial businesses and improve the welfare of individual consumers and citizens.

Chapter 21: New Thinking in How Governments Deliver Services (by Mark Headd)

Excerpt: “The open data approach works best to generate emergent (rather than prescriptive), customer-facing applications that are related to particular kinds of data that have established communities or constituencies of enthusiasts (like transit data)… [but,]… the government procurement process as it exists today is not ideal for acquiring optimal technology solutions that take advantage of the latest thinking…

Source: “Beyond Transparency” (2013, Code for America)

Public sector (9)

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