View all modules About the Innovation Skills Accelerator About the Office of Innovation Contact us




In the Open Data Learning Module, we are going to deepen our discussion of data to introduce you to one of the most powerful and important governance innovations of the last decade -- the policy of open government data. As we hope you will see, open data policies are a key enabler for one of the most important sources of information and evidence available to you to use when solving public problems. By the end of this module, we hope you will be able to: (1) Define open data; (2) Understand how open data policies can be used to make data available for public problem solving; and, (3) Consider what open data might be available to you to use when defining your problem.


The Benefits of Using Open Data

In this interview, Zachary Feder, Program Manager at the New York City Mayor's Office of Data Analytics, describes how using Open Data is beneficial to government. Specifically, he speaks about how analysts, legal/compliance officers, and communications staff within government can benefit from the use of Open Data in their daily jobs.



Thumbnail of interview with Zachary Feder


Zachary Feder is the Open Data Program Manager at the NYC Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics. At a decade old, and with more than a million unique users and nearly a billion rows of data, NYC Open Data is one of the most robust municipal data portals in the world. Before joining the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics, Zachary worked at NYC Parks for more than ten years, where he led communications on park restoration after Hurricane Sandy, managed applications to track cleaning and repair work, and helped to build the organization’s “Innovation & Performance Management” team.


Toward an Open Data Demand Assessment and Segmentation Methodology

Stefaan Verhulst and Andrew Young

The GovLab


This paper is centered around a methodology which provides open data policymakers and practitioners with an approach for identifying, segmenting, and engaging with demand for data. After first providing a value proposition for the methodology, the authors use six detailed steps, backed by templates, to suggest how to effectively and accurately assess and segment open data demand in public agencies to improve people’s lives.

Read the full article here.

The Global Impact of Open Data

Stefaan Verhulst and Andrew Young

The GovLab


Open data has spurred economic innovation, social transformation, and fresh forms of political and government accountability in recent years, but few people understand how open data works. In this extensive report, The GovLab’s Co-founder, along with its Knowledge Director, compiled detailed case studies of open data projects throughout the world and combined them with in-depth analysis of what works — and doesn’t work — when using open data for public good.

Read the full article here.

Open Data Handbook

Open Knowledge Foundation

This toolkit first and foremost serves to help readers understand the principles of design thinking and how they can be used in a government context. As with any effective guide, it explains why the technique is critical and proceeds to demonstrate how to move through the different stages of the design process. Highlighting numerous examples and case studies, this guide goes the extra mile to explain design thinking, human-centered design, and their benefits in government.

Read the full article here.

Open Government Data: The Book

Joshua Tauberer


This book, available as an e-book, paperback, or kindle version, encapsulates the principles, practices, and a history of the open government data movement. Written by an expert with years of experience in e-government and open data, the book is organized into chapters covering the movement and its history, examples and a typology of open government data applications, a brief legal history of open government data, principles and recommendations for creating open government data, and limitations in the use of data for government transparency.

Read the full article here.



Choose the correct answer.

To be considered “technically” open data, information must be:

Correct! The information must be technically accessible, meaning data must be available in a form that a computer can access and use.

Unfortunately, that’s not correct. That can be a characteristic of open data but here we’re looking for a technical description of how information needs to be presented so it can be accessed.


Choose the best answer.

To be considered “legally” open data, information must be:

That’s right! The data must be licensed in such a way that anyone can use and reuse the information without fee or restriction.

Sorry, that’s not correct. Hint: When data is “legally” open it’s able to be used for a very wide range of purposes.


Choose the best answer

What makes open data a truly transformative approach to solving public problems is the________ it enables.

That’s right! Making data open enables others to join in the effort to solve problems and provides the opportunity to bring a wider range of skills and resources to the task.

Sorry, that’s not correct. Hint: While open data had its origins in pro-democracy activism it’s now part of a broader movement where various people and organizations can work together.


Choose the best answer.

The global market for open data has been estimated by the Open Data Institute to be as high as ________.

Correct! Open data can catalyze greater business competition and entrepreneurship, and open government data is a core business asset for thousands of companies worldwide.

Unfortunately, that’s not correct. It’s higher.


Choose all that apply

Launched in May 2009, the federal government’s open data repository _________ , initially made forty-seven datasets searchable and created a tangible and central place for agencies to list government data.

That’s right! It was one way of turning the principles of the Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government - an important milestone in open data policy - into practice. now hosts almost a quarter of a million datasets that you can access.

Sorry that’s not right. Hint: It’s even fewer characters to type in your search engine!

You're right but there's more to this answer. Please try again!


Choose the incorrect response

Stronger open data policies have been underpinned by various legislative and executive mechanisms, including:

Correct! This is made up. All the others are examples of how open data policy is being embedded into the way the public sector solves problems. OPEN calls for inventorying and publishing all government information as open data. DATA calls for publishing all federal government spending data as open data in standardized formats while the Executive Order helped to advance open data implementation in federal agencies.

Sorry that’s incorrect. This IS one of the supporting mechanisms.

You're right but there's more to this answer. Please try again!


Choose the correct answer.

According to the Open Data Barometer survey of 115 countries, the percentage of priority datasets that remain closed is:

Correct! What’s more, only 7% of the data governments collect is fully open, only one of every two datasets is machine readable, and only one in four datasets has an open license. So there remains enormous potential for strong open data policies to improve both access to and the use of data.

Sorry, that’s not it. It’s higher.

You're right but there's more to this answer. Please try again!


Select all that apply

When considering the availability of the required data you will often need to go beyond what’s available in your own jurisdiction and consider various aggregators of open data which include:

Correct! And there are many more you can access depending on your field of interest, such as the EPA for environmental Data, the US Department of Labor for labor data, or the FBI for crime statistics.

Sorry, that’s not right. There’s just one that doesn’t really fit this list. HINT: It’s open data we are accessing so it’s free.

You're right but there's more to this answer. Please try again!


True or False

A key part of creating and using open data is preparing it for use by organizing it, “cleaning” it, making it machine-readable, and visualizing it. This is where a DataDive - a special type of algorithm that is able to quickly and accurately analyze vast amounts of data faster than a human - can help.

Correct! DataDives are all about collaboration between people - they bring together internal and/or external partners with relevant expertise in high energy events to prepare data for use and to help analyze it.

Sorry, that’s incorrect.

You're right but there's more to this answer. Please try again!


Choose the correct answer.

The New York City competition that invites private companies to help solve public problems using open data is called________.

Correct! It's a good example of how to encourage those with relevant expertise to come forward and help you turn your open data into practical and valuable tools for the public.

Sorry, that’s not correct. HINT: You probably have a number of these on your smartphone.

You're right but there's more to this answer. Please try again!