Guidance for councils on publishing data

LG Group Transparency Programme

The LG Group have today launched a feedback site to get views on the draft guidance that has been developed for councils on the based ways to approach publishing open data.

As the site says:

Many authorities already publish considerable data. The challenge now is to be systematic about this, and to adopt some basic digital approaches in making data public to maximise everyone’s ability to benefit.

The Local Government Group in collaboration with the Local Public Data Panel is publishing a set of guides to offer practical help to meet both immediate targets of publishing data, and to adopt approaches that will add most value for local people and public services over the longer term.

This is a rapidly evolving and innovative agenda, so the guides are not static, mandatory requirements but rather they are ‘live’ documents that are open for you to comment on and offer the benefits of your experience.

The live nature of the documents is down to the fact that they are hosted on Steph Gray‘s marvellous Read+Comment setup which allows for the rapid publication of commentable documents.

As well as being commentable the site also publishes all the content in open reusable formats through RSS – a great example of walking the talk.

As I discussed with Tim on the podcast, it’s vital to increase the levels of data literacy at all levels of government – explaining the whys and the wherefores as well as the techie stuff about licenses and formats. This guidance is a great start, and if folk across the open local government scene get involved and add the benefit of their knowledge and experience through this site, it should be even better.

It’s also an opportunity, of course, for councils to have their say on this whole agenda. Open data is no panacea and, approached in the wrong way, it could have profound negative implications. So even if you are yet to drink the open data Kool-Aid, get stuck in now or forever hold your peace.