Convening a data user group

Who usually convenes data user groups?

The short answer: anyone! Local governments and data intermediaries (like research institutions and libraries) are often the ones who convene data user group meetings — but these are not the only organizations who can fill this role. Community residents from all walks of life are an important component of these groups, to bring their knowledge and experience to conversations about open data.

Being the convener of a data user group means that you will be the one to plan a group meeting, facilitate the conversation between data providers, users, and intermediaries, and keep the group going. No matter your profession, if you are interested in bringing together people around community improvement and open data, this playbook is for you.

Selecting a focus area

Data user groups are most effective when they focus on a specific topic. How do you find a focus? You probably already have one. If you work for a city, what are the priorities for your department or administration? If you are a university or research organization, what issues are you most passionately working on? And if you are a city resident, what challenges do you see in your community day-to-day? Pick one specific topic to focus on — such as housing or transportation — and focus on creating a data user group around that specific topic.

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