Okay, I admit it: Even as a champion of open data, I find that it’s often mundane to view data on a portal. Simple lists of datasets — and even the maps and charts you can create — don’t truly show the intrinsic value of data that’s been freed to benefit communities.
To really capture the meaning and potential of such data, you need people to bring data to life — in the form of local collaborations, news stories, and apps that provide the audiences you’re trying to reach with easy access to information and services. It takes people, not portals, to leverage data to improve the usage and delivery of services; raise broad awareness of issues; and inform local and statewide policymaking. For example, leveraging health data from California’s health department’s open data portal to create stories about measles-immunization rates for kindergarteners in the Golden State. Reporters and advocates harnessing this information brought this story to life.
Data just sitting on a portal can’t do that.
And all of these people who seek data for their work need to connect with each other. An advocacy organization in Fresno may want to learn from similar work being done in San Diego. A nurse at a health clinic in downtown L.A. may want to partner with a researcher at USC who’s got expertise with health data. An epidemiologist with the California Department of Public Health may want to team up with staff at local health departments.
As open data efforts statewide expand and mature, the need has become clear for data stakeholders to collaborate in these and other ways.