By Drew Bush
Open North’s James McKinney, Stéphane Guidoin and Paulina Marczak completed an inventory of global open data standards last week that seeks to establish a global viewpoint on the subject and identify any missing pieces. Their work was completed as part of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Working Group, a group that aims to support governments seeking transparency through open data.
“The objective…is to promote the use of open data standards to improve transparency, create social and economic value, and increase the interoperability of open data activities across multiple jurisdictions,” the authors write in their report. “Its first deliverable is to complete an inventory of open data standards by type to develop a global view and to identify gaps and overlaps. Its final deliverable is an OGP document outlining baseline standards and best practices for open data, along with guidance for adoption and implementation.”
In their report, the authors used scripts to automatically collect, normalize and analyze data from 40 OGP members’ catalogs. Their goal was to determine how to standardize the ways such data is licensed, how metadata is used, what types of file formats catalogs make use of, and the overall structure of each catalog. As they wrote, they did not seek to “pursue a comprehensive inventory of data standards” but rather to focus on those “most relevant to OGP members.”
A myriad number of findings result from their analysis. In particular, they found OGP members have no common structure to their catalogs, a need for a common vocabulary for metadata (or data about data), and that there are significant problems with the metadata used to specify licensing in some countries (with “8 out of 24 catalogs, the licenses of over 10 percent of datasets are either not specified or underspecified”).
OGP’s Working Group consists of four streams that include Principles, Measurement, Standards and Capacity Building. Each consists of leads from the government, private and nonprofit world who work to identify and share practices that help OGP governments implement commitments and develop more ambitious and innovative open data plans.
McKinney serves as the lead for the Standards theme which promotes the use of open data standards to improve transparency and to increase the interoperability of open data activities across multiple jurisdictions. His organization, the Canadian non-profit Open North, creates online tools for civil society and government to educate and empower citizens to participate actively in Canadian democracy. Open North is also a Geothink partner.
Find the report here.
If you have thoughts or questions about this article, get in touch with Drew Bush, Geothink’s digital journalist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.