Special issue of the Journal of Community Informatics edited by Raed M. Sharif and Francois Van Schalkwyk: “As the second phase of the Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries (ODDC) drew to a close, discussions started on a possible venue for publishing some of the papers that emerged from the research conducted by the project partners. In 2012 the Journal of Community Informatics published a special issue titled ‘Community Informatics and Open Government Data’. Given the journal’s previous interest in the field of open data, its established reputation and the fact that it is a peer-reviewed open access journal, the Journal of Community Informatics was approached and agreed to a second special issue with a focus on open data. A closed call for papers was sent out to the project research partners. Shortly afterwards, the first Open Data Research Symposium was held ahead of the International Open Data Conference 2015 in Ottawa, Canada. For the first time, a forum was provided to academics and researchers to present papers specifically on open data. Again there were discussions about an appropriate venue to publish selected papers from the Symposium. The decision was taken by the Symposium Programme Committee to invite the twenty plus presenters to submit full papers for consideration in the special issue.
The seven papers published in this special issue are those that were selected through a double-blind peer review process. Researchers are often given a rough ride by open data advocates – the research community is accused of taking too long, not being relevant enough and of speaking in tongues unintelligible to social movements and policy-makers. And yet nine years after the ground-breaking meeting in Sebastopol at which the eight principles of open government data were penned, seven after President Obama injected political legitimacy into a movement, and five after eleven nation states formed the global Open Government Partnership (OGP), which has grown six-fold in membership; an email crosses our path in which the authors of a high-level report commit to developing a comprehensive understanding of a continental open data ecosystem through an examination of open data supply. Needless to say, a single example is not necessarily representative of global trends in thinking about open data. Yet, the focus on government and on the supply of open data by open data advocates – with little consideration of open data use, the differentiation of users, intermediaries, power structures or the incentives that propel the evolution of ecosystems – is still all too common. Empirical research has already revealed the limitations of ‘supply it and they will use it’ open data practices, and has started to fill critical knowledge gaps to develop a more holistic understanding of the determinants of effective open data policy and practice. As open data policies and practices evolve, the need to capture the dynamics of this evolution and to trace unfolding outcomes becomes critical to advance a more efficient and progressive field of research and practice. The trajectory of the existing body of literature on open data and the role of public authorities, both local and national, in the provision of open data
As open data policies and practices evolve, the need to capture the dynamics of this evolution and to trace unfolding outcomes becomes critical to advance a more efficient and progressive field of research and practice. The trajectory of the existing body of literature on open data and the role of public authorities, both local and national, in the provision of open data is logical and needed in light of the central role of government in producing a wide range of types and volumes of data. At the same time, the complexity of open data ecosystem and the plethora of actors (local, regional and global suppliers, intermediaries and users) makes a compelling case for opening avenues for more diverse discussion and research beyond the supply of open data. The research presented in this special issue of the Journal of Community Informatics touches on many of these issues, sets the pace and contributes to the much-needed knowledge base required to promote the likelihood of open data living up to its promise. … (More)”