Third Wave of Open Data

We live in an age defined by the abundance of data. Yet, there also remain tremendous inequities when it comes to data access and re-use.

Even as ever greater amounts of data are generated and stored, the ability to actually re-use this data in a productive and responsible manner to spur positive social change remains stunted.

Open data has sought to address this issue.

  • In the first wave of open data, the institution of FOI laws made national government data available on request to an audience (largely) composed of journalists, lawyers, and activists.
  • The second wave of open data, enabled by the advent of open source and the web 2.0 era, called upon governments to make their data open by default to civic technologists, government agencies, and corporations.

These first two waves achieved many successes, much of the data generated today remains locked away, hidden in silos. Much of the available data focuses on national and supra-national levels, despite growing data held in silos at the subnational, local level.

Today, we are seeing the genesis of a Third Wave of Open Data that can unlock these silos and unleash the public good potential of data for the digital era. The Third Wave takes a much more purpose-directed approach than prior waves; it seeks not simply to open data, but to do so in a way that focuses on impactful reuse, especially through inter-sectoral collaborations and partnerships. The Third Wave pays at least as much attention to the demand as to the supply side of the data equation, and it is concerned not simply with data itself but with the broader technical, social, political and economic context within which data is produced and consumed.

Read more about the Third Wave and what the Open Data Policy Lab and partners are doing to maximize its impact.

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Third Wave Toolkit

The Third Wave of Open Data Toolkit is a resource for data stewards that builds on the Open Data Policy Lab’s previous report, The Emergence of a Third Wave of Open Data. Based on desk research and months of conversations conducted as part of the Summer of Open Data, the toolkit it offers a framework to think about data re-use, one that starts from central questions about how data is created before expanding outward. It also 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.

Learn how to operationalize data reuse at your organization with The Third Wave of Open Data Toolkit’

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Summer of Open Data

The Summer of Open Data was a three-month project spearheaded by the Open Data Policy Lab (an initiative of The GovLab with support from Microsoft) in partnership with the Digital Trade & Data Governance Hub, Open Data Institute, the Open Data Charter, and BrightHive. From July through September 2020, we spoke with data experts in local and regional governments, national statistical agencies, international bodies, and private companies to advance our understanding of The Third Wave of Open Data.

The 10 Summer of Open Data panel videos and summaries are available below.

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