Access to data is vital in tackling the big challenges we face as a society – from the earlier detection and treatment of disease to reducing pollution in urban spaces. Data also has an important role to play in driving economic growth, by supporting the creation of new technologies, products and services. We believe everyone can benefit from opening, sharing, and collaborating around data to make better decisions, improve efficiency, and help tackle some of the world’s most pressing societal challenges. In order to advance the cause of open, trustworthy data sharing and collaboration, such that any organisation of any size can more easily collaborate around data and realise its benefits, the ODI has partnered with Microsoft to help deliver its Open Data Campaign. Projects, organisations and businesses are all likely to have access to a wealth of data that could be utilised to understand and tackle social and environmental issues. However, the potential for this data is often unrealised because it is not shared at all, or in a way that is accessible and useful. While the need for and value of open data is now more commonly recognised, the practice of effectively publishing open data is variable. Through our conversations with a number of data professionals working on supporting others, across a range of sectors, to publish and use data, many felt that people broadly do not have the skills or knowledge to publish data on behalf of their organisation and that there are not many basic publishing resources available to help those individuals. In addition to this, many felt that current publishing practices do not take a user-centric approach, meaning that data often isn't meeting the needs of potential or actual users. In response to these user needs, the ODI and Microsoft have created the User-centric data publishing toolkit. The toolkit has been developed to support those collecting data on behalf of their organisations to feel confident in being able to publish data for the first time, and to publish data with a user focus, so that more data can be used to create socially beneficial outcomes.  It is designed primarily to support researchers who are collecting data on behalf of their organisation, who want to publish open data for the first time. It will most be useful to those working in a third sector or academic settings, but the tools and guidance should also be applicable to individuals working in private and public sector settings too. Specifically the playbook should help you to:

  • improve your understanding of open data
  • assess your readiness to publish openly
  • plan for your data publishing to be impactful
  • learn how to put users at the centre of your publishing efforts, and
  • consider how to publish data that is fit for purpose.

User-centric data publishing toolkit

If you are a business or organisational leader looking to create impact with data, you may also find Microsoft’s Open Data for Social Impact Framework – a tool leaders can use to put data to work to solve the challenges most important to them – a useful resource to help you understand your role as a leader when it comes to your organisation’s practices around open data. The User-centric data publishing toolkit aims to complement the framework, by supporting people at the practitioner level. We have also recently published our research into open data user communities – communities of people who support the use of open data through a common purpose – alongside a register of some of the existing open data user communities which we are aware of. Data publishers may find this useful in identifying communities of practice that may benefit from accessing the data they collected.   This toolkit is in its Alpha phase, so we are keen to hear feedback from those who use it. If you would like to provide feedback on the playbook, please get in contact with us at [email protected]