7. The road ahead

Moving from pilot project to program

The pilot project may typically run from 6 - 12 months after launch dependent on the goals set and the available resources. During that time, there is an opportunity to address the goals that had been set out and gain specific experiences in: data publishing updates, data quality upgrades, open data related metrics and community engagement and communications.

The information gathered from the project offers a number of options for moving forward:

  • Discontinue Open Data initiative (no record of this happening);
  • Continuing the “pilot project” with new goals and objectives; and
  • Moving to operationalize open data as a new corporate program (longer term roadmap).

Use case: report to council on moving forward with open data

Niagara Region
“The results of the pilot suggest that there are benefits in providing open data from both a service efficiency perspective and a community value and innovation perspective.”

The report to Senior Management and subsequently to Council should include original goals and how they have been achieved (fully or partially), lessons learned, how open data aligns and supports Council priorities, benefits derived from pilot project and recommendations for the next phase/roadmap of open data.

Developing the open data roadmap

What does an open data roadmap look like?

“Open data roadmap” is a directional document/strategic plan, encompassing scope and activities for over a specific period of time (most use a 3 year horizon). The organization will have a strategic plan with priorities typically covering the term of the current Town/City/Regional Council. There will also be departmental strategic and operational plans which can serve as a template for your open data roadmap. The lessons learned from the open data pilot project should be leveraged to define a proposed roadmap for approval by Council.

What does an open data roadmap look like? Here’s a few examples for comparison purposes.

Defining the Scope for the Roadmap

The pilot project will have provided valuable experience in open data operations. In operationalizing an open data program, the following could be considered as scope in a 3 year roadmap (may vary for each municipality):

Governance
This area will address the need for program and data (information Management) governance and corporate policy aligned with Open Data Charter principles. This area should be re-visited even if it was initiated in the pilot project.
Technology
This area will review current operations and research technology options to enhance automation of open data and IM operations including ETL, data quality verification and portal enhancements.
Open data operations and training
This area will require the formalization of processes and standards, the expansion to a corporate program involving all departments and agencies and training in open data and digital government both internally and to the external stakeholder community.
Community engagement and partnerships
This area looks to build on the existing engagements and expand the open data community to special interest community groups and develop partnerships with business, academia and civil society to enhance opportunities for economic and social benefits to the community at large.

The degree to which each of these are undertaken will depend on organizational capacity and priorities. It also includes a number of different departments who are responsible for different aspects of the scope defined above and their capacity to support the open data program. This situation has many variables and it will be unique to each municipality. However, the 3 year time horizon is appropriate to set a direction for operationalizing an open data program.

Defining your roadmap

The following is provided as a template for developing your own 3 year roadmap. Many of the tasks may be undertaken to varying degrees depending on your own circumstances and resources. This template should also be used as a high level overview of the open data program for Senior Management and Council.

  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4

Governance

Open Data Program

Active Active                    

Open Data Committees

Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active

Corporate Policy

    Active Active Active              

Data/IM Governance

Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active        

Technology

Requirements Definition/ Assess.

    Active Active                

Peer Consultations

      Active Active              

Industry Scan

        Active Active            

Acquire/Dev. Tech tools

            Active Active Active Active    

Operations

Staff Education

    Active       Active       Active  

Formalize process / standards

    Active Active Active Active            

Refresh Data Sets + New

Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active

Evolve Portal + Metrics

        Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active

Community

Engagement Plan

  Active                    

Build Community

    Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active

Co- Develop + Partnerships

    Active Active     Active Active     Active Active

Ongoing Communicate

Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active Active

Descriptions of roadmap activities

Governance

Open data program:
It is expected that some of the questions of governance would have been discussed as part of the pilot project. This activity would focus on confirming the roles and responsibilities related to open data across the corporation.
Open data committees:
The pilot project would have had an initial working group. The governance model should indicate the members of the Steering Committee/Working Group which should meet on an ongoing basis to review progress, resolve issues that may arise and provide reports.
Corporate policy:
The policy may have been developed as part of the pilot project. If not, this is the time to create the corporate policy based on International Open Data Charter principles and recommend to Council.
Data/ information management governance:
This is a large body of work that will impact on the open data program. This requires a collaborative approach among all departments responsible for data/information with key participation by the Clerk’s Office and Information Technology and support from each department and business unit

Technology

Requirements definition and assessment:
Based on pilot project experience, prepare an initial technical requirements document and undertake an assessment of existing resources to meet needs.
Peer consultations:
Reach out to the peer network in open data and gain insight into their technical requirements definition and technology experiences. Update requirements definition.
Industry environmental scan:
Undertake preliminary research on current technology solutions related to your requirements. To gain further information, release an open Request For Information (RFI).
Acquire/develop technical tools:
After review of information, the options to address your technical needs are: RFP to acquire; develop missing portions in-house (possibly fork Open Source software); co-develop with community (e.g. Guelph Civic Accelerator) or live with existing capabilities.

Open Data Operations

Staff education:
An effective open data program requires the participation from all departments. Staff education and training support is important for success (e.g. workshops, lunch & learn, How To documents).
Formalize process and standards:
Initial processes used in the pilot project can now be refined and open data standards (e.g. best practices in DIY) for data formats and metadata should be confirmed within your organization.
Refresh datasets, and new data:
The existing open data should be refreshed on the website as the data is updated internally. The addition of new open data will be an ongoing activity until all applicable data is published.
Evolve portal and metrics:
As per the open data maturity levels, the website will evolve from being an open data catalogue to an enhanced portal that allows search, visualization, and metrics (e.g. corporate dashboard).

Community engagement and partnerships

Stakeholder engagement plan:
Based on pilot project experience, develop a stakeholder engagement plan that can be updated as the relationship with the community grows over the years.
Build community:
It’s important to provide community education and opportunities to “play” with your data to understand opportunities. The stakeholders will vary in technical capabilities and diverse goals.
Co-develop and partnership:
Look for opportunities to co-develop ideas, projects and open data impacts. Partnerships with civil society and educational institutes together with other governments are encouraged.
Ongoing communications:
The program communications plan should complement other related projects and goals of the organization.

Keeping the Roadmap Dynamic

As the program progresses, there will be unexpected obstacles and opportunities. The roadmap is intended to be directional and if your environment changes (internal or external) ensure that the roadmap gets updated and track changes with outcomes to look for trends. Always ensure that the open data program aligns with corporate priorities and meets the needs of your end users. Enjoy the trip!