It can be difficult for new data publishers to know where to look for data users, or to start building their own communities of practice around the data they publish. Individuals who work independently to create information from open data – in the form of products and services, analyses and insights, or stories and visualisations – may also find it difficult to identify communities of like-minded people to share their work or collaborate with. The ODI has been working with Microsoft on its Open Data Campaign – an initiative that looks to address the 'data divide’, making data more accessible, and empowering users to collaborate with data. Our work with organisations that collect, maintain and publish data openly has taught us the importance of good community engagement in making sure that open data is able to be used effectively to create socially beneficial outcomes. Often people who are working towards addressing socially important issues are working collectively. This means that data publishers need to understand how communities of users are formed, and how those users work together, in order to effectively support them, and data users need to know where to find others who are working towards similar goals. In support of the campaign, we have undertaken research to better understand the characteristics of different open data user communities, such as what purpose they serve, what enables the community to operate, and how members come together to collaborate. Our research summary aims to help data publishers gain a better understanding of how different types of communities can benefit from the data they publish, and to help individual users to understand how different types of communities might suit their work with data, or what might be important if they wish to start their own community of practice. In addition to the research summary, we have also created a register of all the open data user communities which have been identified through a combination of desk research, interviews and surveys. The Open Data User Communities Register is a live repository of open data user communities, which aims to:
- Help data publishers identify relevant communities to their work.
- Help individuals looking for communities of support around data use to identify relevant communities which they could join.
The register highlights examples of communities and breaks them down by their core characteristics, such as: purpose, community enabler, collaborative method, geography and scale of operations. We have created filters for each characteristic to make it easy for you to search for the types of communities you are interested in. This is a collaborative register, and we want to ensure that others are able to contribute as well. This register may not reflect some of the open data user communities you are aware of, or may be involved with, so we would encourage you to let us know about additions that you would like us to make to the list. If you’d like us to add an open data user community to the register, please fill out the community suggestions form; we will review the suggestions and include those that are relevant. If you wish to discuss the register – for example if you think there is something missing or that we can improve upon – please let us know. Get in touch at [email protected].