Lessons In Gov Open Data: Optimize For Consumer

There is an excellent post in GovFresh by former Presidential Innovation Fellow and Githubber Ben Balter (@BenBalter), Why no one uses your government data?

Ben is looking to address one of the biggest problems with open data in government. That data is just opened, purely to check a box on some requirement imposed on agencies. The data steward doesn’t actually put any thought into how the data will be used, and is just taking advantage of positive re-enforcement associated with opening up the data.

This is not just a problem in federal, state or city government. This same problem occurs in the private sector as well. While it takes work to open up data and other resources via APIs, it takes even more work to see things through the eyes of a consumer. Making the data clean and actually usable by data journalists, in visualizations and applications is hard work.

We need to raise the bar when it comes to open data. If you work in government, non-profit or company, your work isn’t done when you release your open data or API, you need to see things through and ask yourself one simple question: How can you optimize the experience for the consumer?