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Opendatasoft - the data sharing platform

 

The biggest challenge right now is creating a data-driven culture
Mayara Soares-Faria (Customer Succes Manager) at Opendatasoft


Opendatasoft 

Opendatasoft, the data sharing platform that makes it possible to access, re-use, and share data, recently joined the Support Centre for Data Sharing (SCDS) for a practice example interview. The SCDS team was joined by Angeles Navarro (Business Development at Opendatasoft) and Mayara Soares-Faria (Customer Success at Opendatasoft), who discussed the tool, the company, and the developments they observe in the field. 

Opendatasoft provides cloud-based software that allows governments and organisations to share their data either publicly or in a private way. The front-end of the platform is open-source, and is generally used by two types of users: technical users that make use of the APIs provided; and non-experts users who wish to analyse public (government) data and create visualisations like graphs, maps, calendars, and dashboards on the basis of that information. 

In the public sector, clients typically reach out to Opendatasoft in the context of open data, or when they wish to share data internally, i.e. between entities of the government. The company is currently active in over 20 countries, serving over 300 clients in the public and private domain. 

The City of Vancouver’s data portal is one of Opendatasoft's key applications

One of Opendatasoft’s applications is the open data portal created for the city of Vancouver. This portal provides access to the city’s public data and allows users to create personalised visualisations, including tables, maps, and charts, which can be exported and shared. In addition, the da-ta can be exported in various flat and geographical machine-readable formats. The portal provides a wealth of datasets categorised in business and economy, culture and education, demographics, food and housing, geography, government and finance, recreation, property development, safety, streets and transport, sustainability, and water. 

For citizens this is a great tool to get access to public information that is typically not stored at one central location, or requires significant effort to find it, and makes data easy to digest for those who do not have the knowledge, skill, or time to analyse or visualise data on their own account. 

For civil servants, public sector officials, and national, regional and local administrators, the portal serves as a tool to gauge the city’s performance on several key performance indicators (KPIs) by means of a dashboard. For instance, the time it takes for emergency service to respond to a call, the rate of construction and trade inspections that are completed on time, or the level of greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to providing the actual measures of these indicators, the portal also provides figures of their development over time and whether or not a certain KPI is achieved. In doing so, the portal provides policymakers and government officials with a reliable yet simple tool to monitor progress towards local targets, and backs up policies with quantitative metrics. 

“Frais et local” fosters the consumption of local produce

Another interesting application is the dashboard called “Frais et local”, which helps French citizens find locally sourced food products. This dashboard was created in response to a desire for more organic and local products to combat climate change. Thus, the application fosters the consumption of local produce in France and is built with the map widget that Opendatasoft provides. For example, users can use the dashboard to find different types of products and producers across the country. This dashboard has also helped French citizens find and support local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

OpenDataSoft helps lower the threshold for using data

For many open data portals, the threshold and entrance bar for citizens who do not work with da-ta may be high. If the portal would only allow users to export the dataset, little insight can be extracted form that information if they do not have the skills to analyse or visualise the data. This becomes even harder for real-time data, which requires some additional expertise. Opendatasoft lowers the threshold as it enables citizens to use data that is already public to extract meaningful information from it. 

There is reluctance to share data and implementation is not always straightforward

From a user-perspective, making a case for data sharing is not hard. Yet, Angeles points out that it is still difficult to convince stakeholders of the benefits of data sharing, as the return-on-investment is not so evident. Mayara envisions the main challenge that Opendatasoft faces today is creating a data-driven culture. Typically, setting up a dashboard for a client is relatively easy, and once data is published and some analysis can be performed, the initial need is accounted for already. Extending that to truly inform decisions and guide data-driven culture requires more effort. Currently, organisation are not yet fully successful at implementing this. 

The uptake of data sharing is growing 

Government bodies across the world are becoming increasingly interested in publishing data and using data to improve their services, both publicly and privately. Opendatasoft typically witnesses that once organisations have reached a certain level of data maturity, and have made their data available to the public, they start using the data and the infrastructure for internal purposes, for example, to inform decision and guide policy-making. This highlights that the uptake of data sharing practices is still growing. An example of this is the current pandemic, which has demonstrated clearly how data sharing helps solve complex challenges. In France, the open data available on a national level was used to build a dashboard, from which several clients have taken the open-source code and implemented it on their websites and enriched it with additional data, like vaccinations and hospital capacity statistics. Another example is offered by Google, who recently published their mobility reports, and a French telecom company that has provided anonymised geolocation data of customers. These example of two of many initiatives where private actors share data to inspire government policy (B2G).

What’s next?

As more stakeholders are aiming to publish data, there is also growing competition on publishing data in a more innovative or citizen-friendly way, or to take policy-decisions based on data. This trend will hopefully continue in the future, and Angeles and Mayara expect the focus to shift from quality to quantity. To this end, Opendatasoft aims to push organisations to get in touch with the data science community to provide better products and services. 

 

Name 

Opendatasoft

Sector 

Technology

Region 

Europe 

Countries 

France 

Time 

2011 - ongoing 

URL 

https://www.opendatasoft.com/

Business model  

Government-to-Business, Business-to-Business, Business-to-Government, Government-to-Consumers, Business-to-Consumers

Participants 

Governments, public and private organisations, businesses, citizens (consumers)

Type of organisation 

Data sharing software company

Data sharing model(s)  

Data Sharing via intermediaries, sector governance, legal framework

Core impact  

Opendatasoft provides citizens, businesses, and governments with a tool that enables the access, reuse, and sharing of data to grow business, and improve products and services.

Context 

From a user-perspective the benefits of data sharing are clear but among private companies and public organisations there is still reluctance and lack of knowledge when it comes to sharing data.

Opendatasoft
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(c) 2021, Support Centre for Data Sharing