Refining an opportunity for Tactical Data Engagement

A self-assessment tool and worksheet

This tool is an activity intended for city or other government staff looking to do an internal brainstorming around potentially impactful TDE opportunities. This worksheet will help not substitute for actually carrying out the refining step of the TDE method. Instead, it will help you self-assess what doing this process “for real” might look like in your city. For each step below, use the discussion questions to think through the details of your responses to each section of the outline at the end of this worksheet.

Having trouble with this page? Use another version in Google Docs here.

1. Choose a hypothetical focus area to move forward with the brainstorming process, or apply your chosen focus area.
2. Identify data you have or could collect that’s relevant to your focus area.

What data do you currently collect?

What data could the city collect that relates to your focus area?

Which department/s own and/or maintain this data?

Fill out the Data Supply box below.
3. Identify users in the community who frequently request or need data.

Who are current and potential external users of the city data identified above?

Where are public data requests (within your focus area) often routed?

How can your data supply support community members/orgs’ work?

Fill out the Data Requesters box below.
4. How have you met demand for data in the past?

Does your city fill requests for this data through a public records request or similar system? If not, why?

In what forms are requesters receiving this data?

How has this data been used by residents in the past?

What gaps exist in meeting the external demand for this data?

Fill out the Past Activities box below.
5. How can you refine your understanding of your focus area?

Which refining tactics (below) would you use to engage potential stakeholders in more specific conversations about your focus area?

Are you already aware of any information gaps or data needs among stakeholders for your focus area?

What context can stakeholders provide that might help you better understand your focus area?

Fill out the Refining Tactics box below.
6. Identify potential next steps

Which external partners could help implement the tactics identified above?

Is the plan outlined through this exercise feasible? If not, why?

How can you encourage stakeholder participation in the plan outlined in this exercise?

Could your city pursue opportunities to facilitate re-use based on the feedback you will collect? How?

Fill out the Next Steps box below.
7. What are the potential impacts of addressing your refined opportunities?

(Note: Impacts will be clearer once you talk to residents to narrow down a focus area, specific opportunity, and intervention that the city could implement to facilitate better open data use. This assignment is speculative.)

How could city officials and staff benefit from following up on data users’ feedback?

Imagine how community members might benefit from the city’s help with data to support those potential applications.

Use this template fill out a pitch at the bottom of your action plan:

My city’s communities could use information from city hall to address [FOCUS AREA], which is important for [IMPACT]. When I go back to my city, I can use [REFINING TACTIC] to hear ideas and concerns from [DATA REQUESTERS] and identify specific opportunities for them to use [MY DATA SUPPLY]. Next, as the action phase of my city’s Tactical Data Engagement effort, my city will carry out this plan to frame a TDE opportunity by [NEXT STEPS], with adjustments depending on the feedback collected in the framing stage.

Refining tactics

Simple, lightweight tactics for engaging potential stakeholders in specific conversations about issues and opportunities for open data use in your focus area.

Interview stakeholders individually Survey or interview individuals who have interacted with the city around your chosen focus area. Individuals with relevant perspectives may include individuals who requested data (about your chosen issue), who work in relevant fields, who commonly interact with services, or who issues in your focus area most greatly affect. Mine their responses for details about their open data needs and the potential impacts of addressing those needs, and use that insight to generate one or more opportunity statements.
Host a “scope-a-thon” Host an event where local nonprofits, researchers, civic hackers, government officials, journalists, and other stakeholders can gather to brainstorm what the most pertinent opportunities are for open data’s use within your chosen focus area. Scope specific stakeholders’ needs and find details about how better open data might generate impact. Collaboratively generate one or more promising, detailed opportunity statements.
Consult data users and experts Convene a user group meeting with local “experts” to generate ideas for which opportunities within your focus area might be most pressing or feasible to address with data. Leverage local knowledge and data user feedback to find how open data can fit into solutions for residents. Collect subject matter detail on how addressing open data needs might play a role in community impact.
Consult the public Attend meetings or plan a community meeting centered around your focus area. Collect detail on specific issues, for example by conduct low-tech, digital, verbal, or physical exercises and try to tailor activities to a wide range of experience levels for the general public. “Data days,” “data walks,” or similar events, where residents can see and comment on data in person, or other hands-on activities could help residents express specific details about opportunities for better data or information within a focus area.
Workshop with partners Gather your trusted partners and brainstorm ways that each partner can reach out to their own community network and assess what specific needs within your focus area might benefit from the use of open data. Host workshops to come up with a specific opportunity statements based on expressed community needs.

Finding and Refining outline

Ingredients to help me identify TDE opportunities in my city:

My Data Supply Data Requesters Past Activities Tactic(s) Next Steps

My Tactical Data Engagement Pitch:


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