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3.1 Have a business plan

3.1 Have a business plan and governance structure in place Open Data portals help people to find public sector data published as part of a government’s Open Data initiative, in one central location. It is worth noting that data portals are not just managed by public sector bodies, or limited to public sector data, but most interviewed for this paper were. Some community driven portals, like the Leeds Data Mill and Bath:Hacked data store, have been set up by community groups but link to public sector data. For governments, whether a portal is the right mechanism to help people connect with and use their data is not often subject to an independent business case or assessment of user needs. It is simply ‘part of’ doing Open Data in government. Across portal managers interviewed for this report, most could not articulate why their Open Data portal had been established: they felt they followed the lead of other countries, or set up portals because they ‘had to’, as part of an Open Data initiative. Several portal owners cited the Open Government Partnership as a catalyst. Some linked their portal to broader Open Data objectives. In Norway, one policy objective was to improve openness about the government’s relationship with the private sector; in Aragon, Spain, the establishment of an Open Data portal contributed to improving budget transparency. Because Open Data portals were most commonly established as part of a new national Open Data initiative, management structures and financing tended to be ad hoc. Our interviews reflected this. 18

Teams close to the strategic priorities for the current government – in the President’s or Prime Minister’s office (such as in Romania) – were generally tasked with coordinating Open Data efforts and the portal, separate to other government IT and digital processes. Regional and community-led portals, on the other hand – such as the Aragon Government portal, Leeds Data Mill, the Bath:Hacked data store and the Vienna Data Portal – were more likely to be driven by specific challenges within their local communities. Leeds Data Mill, for example, began by focusing on datasets outlined in the UK Government Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) Transparency Code, but quickly realised these may not be most beneficial in Leeds. Leeds Data Mill therefore switched its focus to data areas with high potential re-use value such as footfall data, accident rates and business rates. Understanding the business needs for your Open Data portal, and having a clear business plan and governance structure in place from the outset of portal development can help you to plan for sustainability. 3.2 Bring publishers and data users together to address key challenges using Open Data from the portal For teams coordinating any Open Data portal, there are a range of stakeholders who shape how the portal is used and evolves. These include: public sector bodies, as both publishers and users of data government ministers and senior officials, who drive uptake of a data portal by data publishers in government and may be accountable for data published (where it is a government Open Data portal) civil society organisations, as data users and advocates for/monitors of Open Data businesses – large and small – as data users and potential publishers of data to enhance value local councils and local service providers, as data publishers and users journalists, politicians, educators, statisticians as varied data users Establishing strong connections with data holders and publishers across government is crucial to the operation of a data portal, both to incentivise publication of Open Data, and monitor updates or improvements. As part of running a portal in some countries, teams set up data publisher networks inside government to share experiences using the portal, seek feedback, connect data holders to users seeking their data and promote best practice. Maintaining these over time can be difficult, as resourcing for the portal diminishes and priorities change. And without clear directions to areas of potential collaboration between data users and publishers, it can be hard to maintain momentum. Without an active community using data published via an Open Data portal, publishers have little incentive to keep their data up to date, ensure it is of high quality or even publish data at all. There may not be people within a community or sector with the skills to make sense of data that is published, or there may not be public demand for Open Data. 19

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