What to look for in an open data platform

What to look for in an open data platform

With governments at all levels under pressure to increase transparency, what should IT managers consider when they choose an open data platform?

According to IDC Research Director Ruthbea Yesner Clarke, there are key elements to a successful open data platform: cloud-based technology, a vendor that can help with strategic decisions, user-friendly interfaces and the ability to incorporate dynamic data.

“It is important, given the data siloes that exist in government, that the data can be accessed in the cloud,” Clarke, who heads IDC’s global smart cities strategies program, told GCN. Cloud makes sharing data easier, accessible and affordable, she added, and it enables more efficient workflows when data can be posted from different systems and departments.

Choosing a committed, experienced vendor can help agencies balance getting datasets online quickly and a long-term resource-intensive approach that might include an inventory of existing data and a roadmap for the release of data over time. The process will vary for agencies, depending on the overall strategy of the open data initiative as well as the availability of staff, their expertise, the intended use of the information and the scale of the initiative. “Many organizations seem to jump on the open data bandwagon without taking some time to think strategically about the investment,” Clarke said.

Agencies should also choose an interface that is user-friendly, easily searchable and provides visualizations of the data for external and internal users, according to Clarke. Public data should be posted in machine-readable formats with application program interfaces so businesses can easily access the data.

To future-proof their solution, agencies should look for a platform that can incorporate dynamic data from sensors, mobile applications, cameras and videos. Clarke said states and cities should find a partner that can offer a strategy to incorporate this kind of data when it becomes necessary.

The recently released report, "2016 IDC Innovators: Smart City Open Data Platforms," identifies leading companies in the smart city open data platform market that offer “an innovative technology or a groundbreaking new business model.”

The companies profiled include Junar, NuCivic, OpenDataSoft, Socrata, PlaceSpeak, GovDelivery Interactive Text and mySidewalk.com. Each IDC Innovator has less than $50 million in revenue, and provides a product, service or business model with a specific use case for government. Each vendor profiled also addresses what IDC calls 3rd Platform capabilities, such as robotics, Internet of Things, cognitive systems, natural interfaces, 3D printing and next generation security.

About the Author

Amanda Ziadeh is a former reporter/producer for GCN.


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