Documenting the development of open standards for data

As part of the ODI's innovation programme, a project is being run to help make it easier for people to create open standards for data. Here, Leigh Dodds explains the aims, how different approaches to standards development have been studied so far and what to expect from the projects in the next month

At the end of 2017 we launched a project to explore how to make it easier to create open standards for data.

The project, is funded by Innovate UK, aims to make it quicker and easier for organisations to create open standards for data, and ensure the standards they create are widely adopted and have greater impact.

Open standards are an important element of our local, national and global data infrastructure. Standards help us to publish and use data in consistent and easy-to-access ways. However, standards can also help to change markets, create open ecosystems and implement policy objectives.

The first phases of the project have included carrying out desk research to explore approaches to standards development, user-research to understand more about data users needs with respect to standards, and working with organisations experienced with standards development to support them in documenting their tools and processes.

In 2017 we issued a tender aimed at organisations experienced with developing open standards for data. The winners of that contract were Porism, OpenNorth, Open Data Services and the W3C.

Over the past few months we’ve been working with each of these organisations to:

  • encourage them to take time to reflect on their processes and, where useful, improve their tools

  • support them in documenting their processes, so we could learn more about how they go about standards development

  • enable peer-learning and knowledge-sharing

​ It’s been a really interesting experience working with all of them. They all work with different communities and on different types of data standards.

Each of the partners have published their own outputs, which will definitely be of interest if you’d like to understand more about standards development:

We’ve learnt a lot from working with these organisations. That insight is being used to shape our plans to develop a guidebook to help new open standards for data to be created.

We’ll shortly be publishing some additional research outputs from the project, but in the meantime you can drop me an email at [email protected].