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The Third Wave of Open Data

Open Data Policy Lab Releases Third Wave of Open Data Toolkit

Posted on 11th of March 2021 by Andrew Zahuranec

Open Data Policy Lab Releases Third Wave of Open Data Toolkit
Open Data Policy Lab Releases Third Wave of Open Data Toolkit


Open data and data re-use, when leveraged responsibly, can enable innovative problem-solving. On issues as complex and entrenched as COVID-19, climate change, and economic inequality, data can spur positive social change. Yet, the ability to productively and responsibly unlock this asset in a trusted manner remains stunted. Organizations will need new approaches to realize data’s potential in the areas they work.

Late last year, the Open Data Policy Lab, an initiative from The GovLab supported by Microsoft; Open Data Charter; Digital Trade and Governance Hub; and BrightHive released The Third Wave of Open Data to do just that. The report was informed by three months of discussions with data experts in local and regional governments, statistical agencies, international organizations, and private companies, the work identified a need for the open data movement to evolve to embrace more purpose-driven, collaborative, and impactful work. It identified four goals for data practitioners to aspire toward—publishing with purpose, fostering partnerships, advancing open data at a subnational level, and prioritizing data responsibility—along with practices they could adopt to promote this wave at their organization.

Toolkit Cover

Today, as part of Open Data Week 2021, the Open Data Policy Lab is launching the The Third Wave of Open Data Toolkit, which provides organizations with specific operational guidance on how to foster responsible, effective, and purpose-driven re-use. The toolkit—authored by Andrew Young, Andrew J. Zahuranec, Stefaan G. Verhulst, and Kateryna Gazaryan—supports the work of data stewards, responsible data leaders at public, private, and civil society organizations empowered to seek new ways to create public value through cross-sector data collaboration. The toolkit provides this support a few different ways. 

First, it offers a framework to make sense of the present and future open data ecosystem. Acknowledging that data re-use is the result of many stages, the toolkit separates each stage, identifying the ways the data lifecycle plays into data collaboration, the way data collaboration plays into the production of insights, the way insights play into conditions that enable further collaboration, and so on. By understanding the processes that data is created and used, data stewards can promote better and more impactful data management. Third Wave Framework

Second, the toolkit offers eight primers showing how data stewards can operationalize the actions previously identified as being part of the third wave. Each primer includes a brief explanation of what each action entails, offers some specific ways data stewards can implement these actions, and lists some supplementary pieces that might be useful in this work. The primers, which are available as part of the toolkit and as standalone two-pagers, are:

  1. Creating and Empowering (Chief) Data Stewards
  2. Fostering and Distributing Institutional Data Capacity
  3. Articulating Value and Building an Impact Evidence Base
  4. Supporting New Data Intermediaries
  5. Establishing Governance Frameworks
  6. Creating the Technical Infrastructure for Re-use
  7. Fostering Public Data Competence
  8. Tracking, Monitoring, and Clarifying Decision and Data Provenance

Data stewards interested in the toolkit can find it here. Over the coming months and weeks, the The GovLab, through its Open Data Policy Lab initiative will build upon this offering to ensure data stewards have the resources they need to realize the third wave of open data’s potential.

Contact us with any comments or feedback through email at stefaan [at] or andrew [at]

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