Toward A Periodic Table of Open Data in Cities

Essay by Andrew Zahuranec, Adrienne Schmoeker, Hannah Chafetz and Stefaan G Verhulst: “In 2016, The GovLab studied the impact of open data in countries around the world. Through a series of case studies examining the value of open data across sectors, regions, and types of impact, we developed a framework for understanding the factors and variables that enable or complicate the success of open data initiatives. We called this framework the Periodic Table of Open Impact Factors.

Over the years, this tool has attracted substantial interest from data practitioners around the world. However, given the countless developments since 2016, we knew it needed to be updated and made relevant to our current work on urban innovation and the Third Wave of Open Data.

Last month, the Open Data Policy Lab held a collaborative discussion with our City Incubator participants and Council of Mentors. In a workshop setting with structured brainstorming sessions, we introduced the periodic table to participants and asked how this framework could be applied to city governments. We knew that city government often have fewer resources than other levels of government yet benefit from a potentially stronger connection to constituents being served. How might this Periodic Table of Open Data Elements be different at a city government level? We gathered participant and mentor feedback and worked to revise the table.

Today, to celebrate NYC Open Data Week 2022, the celebration of open data in New York, we are happy to release this refined model with a distinctive focus on developing open data strategies within cities. The Open Data Policy Lab is happy to present the Periodic Table of Open Data in Cities.

The Periodic Table of Open Data in Cities

Separated into five categories — Problem and Demand Definition, Capacity and Culture, Governance and Standards, Partnerships, and Risks and Ethical Pitfalls — this table provides a summary of some of the major issues that open data practitioners can think about as they develop strategies for release and use of open data in the communities they serve. We sought to specifically incorporate the needs of city incubators (as determined by our workshop), but the table can be relevant to a variety of stakeholders.

While descriptions for each of these elements are included below, the Periodic Table of Open Data Elements in Cities is an iterative framework and new elements will be perennially added or adjusted in accordance with emerging practices…(More)”.