NNIP Lessons on Local Data Sharing

Last Updated: March 6, 2023

Organizations like NNIP Partners acquire data in several ways. Some government data sets are not confidential or sensitive and should be publicly available  through open data. NNIP urges all our partners and other community organizations to be active advocates for open data. For more information on open data, see our 2012-2014 Open Data Cross-Site Project and examples of our partners championing open data. To explore open data for your community, check out the US City Open Data Census and our list of state data portals.

For data that are not public, you will need to negotiate with local government agencies to access the data.  For non-confidential data, you should advocate for agencies to publish the data on the city or county open data portal for everyone’s use. For sensitive or confidential data, you will need to negotiate with the agency to share the data with your organization, with a data-sharing agreement. It's hard work, but it can be done, as proven by the growing number and scope of datasets our local partners house.

Approaching local government agency staff to request access to data can be daunting. From the agency's viewpoint, the easiest response for them in the short-term will be to reject the request without serious consideration because of legitimate concerns about staff time and data security, as well as fear of criticism about their agency. From our NNIP partners' experience over the past decade, we offer strategies and agreements that have been successful in other places.

For your reference, NNIP has two other resources on data governance and management: NNIP's Resource Guide to Data Governance and Security and Lessons on Data Management Practices for Local Data Intermediaries.

This guide was developed in 2011 and updated in 2018, both with the support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.


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