What is Tactical Data Engagement?

Tactical Data Engagement is a four-step method for City Hall to help residents make an impact in their community using open data.

This guide puts forth a vision for Tactical Data Engagement (TDE). We created this method based on the core concepts of human-centered design and tactical urbanism, with steps that guide city officials in carrying out interventions that facilitate the community use of open data for local impact. This approach goes beyond basic resident engagement. It seeks to make open data programs more transparent, accountable, and participatory by challenging city halls to actively help residents use open data to better their communities.

The four steps outlined in this guide will help readers complete a resident-informed project, product, or tool that supports the community use of data.

Readers can carry out each of these steps “tactically” — using lightweight, adaptable, incremental, and inexpensive tactics that can be realistically catered to fit within a city hall’s or community’s unique constraints and capacities. The tactics are drawn from examples of good resident engagement around the country, and ensure that in every step, residents are collaborators in determining promising opportunities for impact through the community use of open data.

Who should use Tactical Data Engagement?

This guide is designed for city officials and other public servants who want to work with community actors to get more value out of open data and information.

The TDE method is primarily for city officials who want to help residents generate impact and success stories using open data. However, this guide is also designed to be adaptable to meet the needs of a broad range of readers.

If you work for a city government with an open data program already in place, TDE can help you take that program to the next level by building on your policy and/or portal. TDE can also help city halls that are just starting out with open data begin sharing the right data with the right people, and begin demonstrating what open data success can look like.

If you are an advocate, researcher, librarian, or organizer who wants to incorporate the use of open data into your existing work with communities — or seek out opportunities to partner with governments in facilitating the community use of open data — TDE has a lot to offer you as well.

This broad applicability stems from TDE’s lightweight and adaptable tactics. Tactics can be applied to align with on-going activities and strategies, and they range in the level of effort and impact, thus providing options for governments with varying technical, data, or outreach capacity.

No matter where your community is in its open data work, we hope you enjoy reading about the TDE method, and are able to put these tactics to work!

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