Using open data for public services (report)

Fri Mar 2, 2018

This paper explores how open data can be used in public service delivery and its potential for collaboration, joint problem-solving and open innovation. It highlights where open data has been released by public sector institutions and its effects on delivering public services

This paper explores how open data can be used in public service delivery and its potential for collaboration, joint problem-solving and open innovation. It highlights where open data has been released by public sector institutions and its effects on delivering public services

The nature of the public sector is complex, as are the policy areas it is responsible for. At the same time, there are new possibilities presented by the changing nature of data.

This paper encapsulates the ODI’s research into different ways of understanding the impacts of releasing open data for public services while capturing the complexity of delivering public services.

We visualised open data within an ecosystem to identify open data opportunities in the public sector. By taking this approach, we developed three high-level patterns of open data use in public services.

High-level patterns of open data use:

  • Pattern 1 uses open data to increase access to services for citizens or organisations
  • Pattern 2 uses open data to plan public service delivery and make service delivery chains more efficient; direct beneficiaries are commissioners, managers and frontline public service workers
  • Pattern 3 uses open data to inform policymaking; direct beneficiaries are elected representatives, policymakers and citizens who want to influence policy

We identify examples of each pattern and draw insights from their similarities.

So far, we have developed practical recommendations for a range of actors to support greater use of open data to deliver public services.

Practical recommendations for greater use of open data in public services focus on:

  • Organisational collaboration
  • Technology infrastructure, digital skills and literacy
  • Data infrastructure
  • Open standards for data
  • Senior level championing
  • Peer networks
  • Intermediaries
  • Problem focus

We will develop the methodology behind this report further as part of our wider project on new service delivery models, in which we are supporting four local areas in the UK to redesign a public service using open data.

We will use our insights to develop learning materials to support those in the public sector to better use open data to deliver public services.

View report as Google Doc