The first meeting of your data user group is just the beginning! Here are a few ways to transform the energy of your event into long-term collaboration.
After the event
Best practices for follow up apply here too: Document what happened at the meeting, including notes about the conversations and any feedback captured. Share specific next steps that should happen before your next meeting, and keep participants in the loop as you make progress on your plans.
WPRDC shared the outcomes of its meeting in their action roadmap. The roadmap is a spreadsheet with comprehensive notes from the meeting, including their outcomes wishlist items, suggestions for user guide topics, a list of tools being built, results from their card sorting activity, a list of potential future activities, and an idea wall. In short, the roadmap is a catalog of on-going projects, notes from in-person conversations, and future plans. Your notes and next steps don't need to be a spreadsheet, but making your notes shareable and editable by everyone — the way that Google Docs allows for — can allow group members to share ideas easily and ensure that meeting after meeting, ideas don't get lost.
Bring your group together online
Closely related to the last item, consider creating an email list, listserve, Google group, or Slack channel with all your data user group members. This will allow you to share meeting notes and next steps, ongoing updates, and keep in touch about ongoing collaborations. Low-tech solutions are fine, just as long as you are keeping channels of communication as open and consistent as possible. As always, the best ways to keep people in the loop are through follow-up emails, regular newsletters, and relevant event invitations.
After the meeting, look for impact stories in your community where users (1) took public data (2) to create a product or collaborate with the city on an improvement (3) with support from local institutions (4) for the benefit of the residents or community. As an organizer, stories that fit this four-part model will help you make the case that data user groups are a way to generate action and impact in your community. Identifying these examples of how group members utilized the tools and/or data you provided will both help you frame future user group meetings and inspire further collaboration with data providers and community groups in your area. Tracking, cataloging, blogging, or even just talking about the stories that came out of your work could lend strength and sustainability to your project.