It’s time for open data on open data

Recent conversations I’ve had with municipal executives managing open data programs indicate that traction around open data platform usage isn’t meeting their personal expectations.

The looming fear for some is that, as more and more resources are allocated for open data initiatives, there is going be more of a need to justify the return on investment. If these efforts aren’t meeting that return, the best case scenario is that they’ll receive less funding or simply stagnate as a priority, especially when there are more immediate, pressing IT issues senior-level executives face.

In some cases, some are already asking how to frame the justification.

Two questions to ask if your platform isn’t getting the usage traction you expect:

  • Is it the data platform’s user interface/experience and general product design?
  • Are you effectively developing holistic open data communications strategies to communicate the availability?

The first question is the most important, because without an analytical understanding of usage, the answer to the second is moot.

The appropriate, “open” solution is for governments is to start publicly releasing analytics data on their open data platforms. Given that “open by default” is ingrained in the culture of the open data community, this should be a no-brainer and easy goal to accomplish.

If the numbers are dismal, we can look for the reasons why together and address this as a community.

Let’s start sharing open data platform analytics.

Let’s get this right together.

About Luke Fretwell

Luke Fretwell is the founder of GovFresh, co-founder/CEO of ProudCity and co-host of the podcast, The Government We Need. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn or email at

1 Response

  1. This problem actually plagues the commercial space (both enterprise and SMB) as well.

    The challenge I believe is the “data” is captured, owned, managed or whatever you want to call it by the MSP or Cloud provider. Its like the old days of cell phones where all of a sudden a bill showed up and I thought “wait, what am I being charged for?”. OpenStack tools allow for the analysis, but the tools to take advantage of the tools (so to speak) are lacking. The positive in this is, culturally from an IT perspective the value of the data is clear. All that’s left is to implement (or write) the tools.


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