Nothing beats grandma’s baking. You can go to expensive restaurants and bakeries all over the world, taste extravagant meals, but at the end of the day there is still something about grandma’s pies and cakes. How does she turn flour and water into perfection, what is her secret? Well, her secret is relatively simple and it applies to both baking cakes and optimising Open Data (defined as government data that is deliberately shared in a machine-readable format for free reuse by others) for public use.

Grandma follows her standard recipe the same way, every time. A key rule that should be applied to creating Open Data sets as well. To get successful results, governments should follow a single tried-and-tested method. No need to add an extra pinch of salt here or there; use all the required ingredients and mix everything in the right way, moving confidently from the first to the very last step.

Open Data Success Method:

  1. Engage more

Develop a strategy to deploy Open Data in your entity, make and maintain an Open Data master plan. Prioritise information quality and consistency, learn from your experiences, and make sure to respond to user feedback.

Then, start reusing Open Data from other agencies in your analytical environment. For every new data stream in the back office, check whether it can be replaced by using or creating an Open Data stream. Automate the way you handle data (the ETL process) as much as possible, and regularly update your data.

  1. Stimulate innovation

Engage with communities of interest and urge them to use your Open Data. If they are reluctant, try to understand why they are unwilling to engage and use your Open Data sets. Think in advance about applications using Internet of Things (IoT) and sensor data.

  1. Educate more

Educate your personnel on how to use Open Data for improving public services. Organise trainings on how to publish and use Open Data sets. Constantly invest in educating your employees and repeating the training sessions.

  1. Steer and correct

Urge the public, academic and business communities to use your data, and give them ideas on how to use it and why it will be beneficial for them. Help build community or themed platforms, and continue to use standards. Become demand driven.

Turning pro

Grandma might be the best, but she is a nonprofessional baker, so a single method is all she needs to succeed. Governments have to try harder. Once governments have done their job, created standardised useful Open Data sets and are ready to reach the widest possible stakeholder group, they have to start behaving like professional chefs. There is no room for amateur behaviour.

Here are my top tips for turning professional:

  • Learn and continuously improve your skills, building up on your experience.
  • Keep it simple and tempting (less is almost always more).
  • Let go of what people do not order and use.
  • Add new variations to your most popular menus.
  • Once in a while, try something completely new.