Step 4: Implement

  • THE ACTION: Execute your plan to carry out an intervention that supports the use case opportunity you outlined for better open data use in the community.
  • THE ENGAGEMENT: Work with actual users to ensure the intervention meets their needs.
  • THE COLLABORATORS: Members of the community who are the final, actual users of your open data.
  • THE RESULT: A product, tool, or completed project where specific community members use open data in a new way thanks to your partnership and intervention.

This step is where you should help actual users, identified in the course of the method’s previous steps, to carry out the planned intervention that addresses your community-approved open data use case. Carrying out this intervention is the culmination of facilitating community use of open data. We developed the tactics in this section based on interventions that data providers and cities have used to facilitate community use of open data through projects, tools, or products. The opportunity to facilitate data use may mean sharing datasets that are not currently available in formats and with contents that best suit the needs of the requesters.

Commit to consistent or open feedback channels with residents to ensure you met needs and are driving toward impact. Note that the first solution may not always be the best one, and that those members of the community who contributed to the project — and who are the primary users or beneficiaries of community improvements through the use of open data — have crucial insight into any product’s usability.

The tactic you choose at this stage should build on your work from Steps 1, 2, and 3 and should meet the community’s needs as directly as possible.

Tactics to help you implement an intervention:

Do low-tech outreach If your target community users are not tech savvy, consider low-tech options that meet them where they are. Interventions such as signage, posters, advertisements, or hotlines can expand access to data without requiring digital literacy.
Create data help guides and resources Notice where the community use of open data is stunted by gaps in understanding or good data definition, and fill those gaps with educational resources. This can involve creating user guides that live online, issue hubs that help contextualize data, building help chatbots or texting hotlines, or creating analog data tools that teach residents to analyze information without requiring advanced technical or data literacy.
Invite intermediaries to improve data utility Empower data intermediaries in your community who add value to data by helping them access, process, or promote public data. Data intermediaries can be local research organizations or nonprofits that regularly warehouse and process data with community needs in mind. Actively connect them to data that allows them to better do their jobs, and allow them to add value to the public data you’re releasing. In this tactic, it may be appropriate for data intermediary partners to lead or manage a significant portion of the action.
Co-create with civic hackers Contact and coordinate with local civic hackers. Collaborate with them either by allowing them access to new relevant datasets or open-source code that supports data tools. This tactic is best for agencies that have the tech capacity to maintain tech/software tools in the long-term and work on an equal playing field with tech talent in the community.
Crowdsource data quality improvement Improve a dataset by asking members of the community and stakeholders to check the data points and offer contributions. Poor-quality data sets misrepresent local issues and cause workflow challenges inside city operations. Work alongside residents either digitally or in-person through workshops or events to improve the quality of datasets relevant to addressing the opportunity for community data use that you chose within your focus area.
Generate data stories Data becomes richer when supplemented with contextual, qualitative information, or “data stories.” Residents and local organizations have a wealth of knowledge about what is going on in their communities, and can contribute this knowledge to help inform both cities’ and residents’ data use or analysis. Host either in-person meetings or virtual spaces where people who are interested community members can share data stories that accompany quantitative data to add context and qualitative information.
Host a data challenge Release a new data set and encourage widespread participation in a data challenge that asks residents to propose solutions to local issues based on the new information released. Data challenges can be high-tech coding challenges or more low-tech to reward good ideas that aren’t quantitative or technical. The data challenge should inspire residents to engage with the information and come up with their own solutions to local issues. Implement the winning solution. This is a fairly hands-off intervention, but works best in cities where community-driven solutions can actually be adapted and implemented with community members.

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