Emerging Roles for Optimising Re-Use of Open Government Data

Journal Article by Fanghui Xiao, Liz Lyon, Ning Zou and Robert Gradeck
February 1, 2018

University Center for Social and Urban Research   (Pittsburgh)

This paper describes a small-scale study to investigate the missions, services and operational tasks provided by four open government data centers: NYC OpenData (New York Open Data Center), DataSF (open data portal of San Francisco), WPRDC (Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center) and the London Datastore (Greater London open data portal). The findings are used to propose three emerging specialist data roles for open government data (OGD) centers. The methodology used was an analysis of the textual content of the data center websites, to identify the common elements of the mission and services. A common mission across all four open government data centers was ‘to improve the use of data’. The range of data center services and tasks identified and extracted from the websites, could be classified into five common categories: Availability, Understandability, Technical Help, Social Engagement, and Improve User Data Literacy. Three new specialist open government data roles were proposed, which were framed to facilitate the delivery of the services identified in this study: Data Interpreter, Data Consultant and Data Visual Assistant. In parallel with existing research data policies and guidelines, these three specialist OGD roles could be extended and applied across other open data portals and domain-based data centers e.g. research data repositories, to optimise the delivery of open data, to facilitate greater value from data sharing, to maximize the understanding of complex data and to minimize the subsequent misuse of data.