- The Sunlight Foundation has launched its Roadmap to Informed Communities, an open data framework that builds on last year's Tactical Data Engagement (TDE), a four-step process for municipalities to facilitate opportunities for the community's open data use to improve residents’ lives. The TDE guide has been updated and information has been gathered from pilot programs of the TDE approach in Austin, TX; Glendale, AZ; Madison, WI; and Norfolk, VA.
- The roadmap includes what it calls "discovery methods" — how to conduct user research for open data — and "action methods" — how to collaborate and co-design an open data project with communities.
- The tools are intended to help cities launch a new open data program, but they could also help cities to tweak existing programs based on the case study information.
Cities increasingly gather large amounts of data about many aspects of citizens' lives. The stated goals generally are to improve city services and citizens' lives, in addition to solving the community's pressing problems. But with all that data collection comes the need to build trust and ensure that the gathered information is used scrupulously and wisely. Creating open data programs is one way to build that public trust by offering greater transparency.
Gathering data is the easy part, but figuring out which information to share, how to release it through an open-data portal and how to implement open-data policies can be difficult. Guides such as those offered by the Sunlight Foundation give cities an idea of where to start and important factors to consider when beginning and continuing their journey toward open data.
Establishing and maintaining a clear focus is at the heart of the guidelines. Cities of all sizes that achieve success with open data do tend to start small and stay focused, then expand to additional areas. That worked for Johns Creek, GA which recently created an Amazon Alexa skill to give residents easy access to the city's data. Similarly, New York City releases an open data report annually and adds new data sets each year, with this year's release upping the number of available data sets to more than 2,000.