Building the foundation for an Open Data Directory

This post was first published at the ePSI Platform and the Open Knowledge Foundation blog.

Open (Government) Data as it is understood nowadays can still be considered a new concept. It started to gain traction worldwide since the Obama memo in early 2009 and the launch of a few months later. Following successful leading examples of the US and UK governments we have seen Open Data flourishing all over the world over the last three years. More than two hundred Open Data catalogs have been identified so far.

But still, it’s not always clear how to deliver good solutions and many questions remain unanswered. In order to build sustainable Open Data initiatives in a varied range of countries a broader view to address challenges is needed. New and existing initiatives willbenefit from shared knowledge and will also produce a range of resources that should be published in a freely and open way for others to reuse.

As the Open Data movement is growing worldwide; the number of available resources is also increasing. The scarcity of only 3-4 years ago is ending but the resources are appearing in disparate places and formats, sometimes difficult to find and share. There is a pressing need to compile and document existing resources that are verified, trustworthy, comparable, and searchable.

The Open Data Directory

Upon discussions with many in the Open Data community, an initial analysis of their own project needs and preliminary research on existing public resources, the Web Foundation believes that the community at large would benefit from a central entry point to Open Data related resources at a neutral source, the Open Data Directory (ODD).

This ODD will help to produce clear evidence base of the benefits of Open Data holding a wide range of resources types such as: use cases, case studies, stories and anecdotes, methodologies, strategies, business cases, papers, reports, articles, blog posts, training materials, slide sets, software tools, applications andvisualisations. The directory will not focus on compiling a vast number of references, instead it will give priority to high-quality references endorsed by the Open Data community.

As a first step towards the ODD, we are making public the Use Cases and Requirements Draft in order to get comments from the wide community, not only on the content of the document itself but also on the overall idea of the ODD. We’ve published it as a Google Document with comments turned on. This is a tool for you, the Open Data community, so suggestions, feedback and comments are very welcome. The extended deadline for submitting comments is: April 29th, 2013.

How to Improve the Best Open Data Site?

The World Bank Data initiative has asked for feedback about what we would like to change on their Open Data site.

This is a tough question as I personally think that, for many reasons, they already own the best Open Data site in the world so far. From tons of quality data to great searchdeveloper and visualization tools, as well as a variety of communication, dissemination and training resources. They have even explored places that others still consider inhospitable. It is really difficult to find some room for improvement, anyway, we can make a wish, so here is mine.

A community meeting place at the World Bank Data site

As all we know, just putting data online is not enough to get it used. Efforts on outreach, community building and engagement are always required, as well as designing for participation, allowing multiple kinds of contributions and letting people contribute in multiple ways. Support conversation around the data and join actively that conversation contributing with the World Bank expertise will increase value, connectivity and the overall network impact derived from the ability of participants to affect each other.


This is why my wish is a thematic space where the stakeholder community can join the World Bank in decision making, building skills and make real contributions. Open Data need to be developed by an amazing variety of people with varying interests and incentives. It is not just about government, business, academic and certain institutions, but also about individuals, nonprofits or any other informal group of people that have already proved to be instrumental in its operation and growth. For me this is the only missing piece to complete the Open Data building blocks jigsaw at the World Bank.

I am aware of the great community building stuff that the World Bank has already put in place, as well as apps competitions that challenge developers to come up with prototypes to show data potential or discussion groups to support them. But we need to get further into the Open Data engagement scale and be able to create an ecosystem devoted to lead to useful and sustainable tools or services based on data.

Of course, this is not only about letting everybody play, but also about playing nice and getting others to involve in the game as a unique team. That’s not an easy task and, apart from online tools and resources, will require special leadership, but I am sure that the World Bank can find it within its great staff.