Charities should consider adopting an open data approach because the movement is a “particular opportunity for the charity sector”, according to professor Nigel Shadbolt from the University of Southampton.
Shadbolt, who is also chairman and co-founder of the Open Data Institute and has been advising the government on opening up its data sets, was speaking to delegates at the CFG IT conference yesterday. He told them that opening up data sets and sharing information could improve service provision, advocacy and campaigning, and impact measurement.
He said that he thought there is a “very natural alliance between the charity sector and various developers of open data” and that there are many reasons to take an open approach to data.
Making data about your organisation and the sector more widely available leads to greater transparency, accountability and the ability to better demonstrate impact, he said. By looking at published data sets it is also possible “to see how fair and balanced service provision is” and identify where improvements can be made.
He added that publishing data openly can attract the attention of the media and researchers to support advocacy and campaigning.
According to Shadbolt the three key principles of open data are:
- It is made accessible online
- It is published in an open machine-readable format
- It is licensed to others to reuse it
Shadbolt pointed out that “just because it has been released freely doesn’t mean it is of no further value to people”.
He added that “it is still early days” for the open data movement and that it is “as much about technology as about state of mind” to get organisations sharing and collaborating on data.
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