Solution Architecture

Systematically Track How People Are Using Data from

There's no question that open data can provide citizens with more information and transparency about how government is operating and the results it's getting. But that's only half of the equation: We believe that open data produces not just more informed citizens, but also, ultimately, better government. To make that equation come true, though, we have to be vigilant about tracking how people are using data, and incorporating those innovations back into the fabric of government.

Think of the Mozilla model: Sure, they make their source code open, but that on its own isn't worth much. What makes Firefox a great product is that they ruthlessly monitor what people do with that source code, and use those innovations to make Firefox better. So when you go through that 18-second download, you're downloading the product of thousands of hours of coding and innovation. People should be able to experience government the same way: Making data free should make government better even for the people who aren't downloading and experimenting with the data.

There are models for doing this. Socrata tracks how people filter particular data sets to answer specific questions; DataMasher is centered entirely not on "what data do we have" but on "what are people doing with it."


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Similar Ideas [ 4 ]


  1. Comment
    David Smith

    Usage metrics can inform in many ways, such as geographies of interest, data themes of interest, sudden surges (such as emergency response), or steady trends, and it can inform agencies on which data require further investment and so on. In hearing about how DOI's clip-and-ship got very heavy usage when rolled out, it raises questions of whether or not data is being prepackaged in effective ways or not, and so on.

    Tracking usage is key, and any way to capture what the data is supporting can also be tremendously informative.

  2. Comment
    David Smith

    NOTE! My vote somehow came out as a 'down' vote and I don't seem to be able to change it - it should be an 'up' vote! :(

  3. Comment
    Unsubscribed User


    Great post! I had a question. You wrote:

    "vigilant about tracking how people are using data, and incorporating those innovations back into the fabric of government"

    My question is how do you think its possible to do this without the government being seen as monitoring citizens use of data? This has been a hot button issue observed on a number of blog posting. My sense is that we would have to work out some sort of deliberate way for people to indicate that they voluntarily wanted

    to particpate.

  4. Comment

    i agree with this! add to it industrial strength web analytics to support a constantly evolving set of user needs to go with an evolving set of data

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