Does Your State Meet the Open Data 'Gold Standard'?

August 18, 2014


Every state has data, but not every state knows what to do with it. A new report from the Center for Data Innovation (CDI) finds that states vary widely in the openness of their data. Only six states meet the gold standard for the presence and quality of open data policies and portals: Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Oklahoma, and Utah.

Just what should states do?

  • Have an open data policy requiring that basic government data be published.
  • Require that data be published in machine-readable format.
  • Feature an online open data portal for publishing basic government data.
  • Craft portals with an easy-to-use interface and large back catalogs of data.
  • Provide information for developers to build applications using the data.

Just because a state doesn’t meet the gold standard for open data doesn’t mean they’re sitting on their hands. Some states, such as Oregon, are quite open with their data and publish it regularly on a sleek portal, but just happen to lack a formal data policy. California, Michigan, and Missouri are similar in this regard.

Why does having a coherent open data policy matter? As CDI explains, these policies “provide opportunities to require machine readability, ensure accountability by requiring participation from all state agencies, keep data current by mandating regular updates of specific types of data, and ensure that unnecessary restrictions are not placed on public data.” In other words, good data policies ensure a dynamic portal, and a good portal means that the policy is worth the paper it’s written on.

The biggest takeaway from CDI’s research is that early adopters of state open data can lead the way for the rest. Polices should be up to date and information easily accessible and applicable. The result will be a win both for transparency as well as for the economy.


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