Open data use cases

Yesterday I helped present a session at the Future Everything conference, along with Paul Maltby, Jamie Whyte and Tom Rowlands, talking about the open data day events we’ve helped to run and the feedback we got from them. My part was to open a discussion on the specific feedback we got at Open Data Camp in Winchester on the 21st and 22nd of February – we asked people what they thought should happen in the next 365 days around open data, one thing they’d like to see. (In fact we simply didn’t let people leave the ODCamp hall until they’d written something on a post it note. Participatory consultation, yay! Sort of …)


What we got out of that was very interesting and wide ranging, reflecting the very mixed backgrounds and skill sets of the Open Data Camp attendees. There were very specific items;




and some very general;




and a few tangential ideas …




But we found that broadly the different wishes and wants appeared under nine distinct themes: Catalogue, Ecosystem, Skills, Guidance, Tools, Datasets, Standards, Access and Storytelling.


Here’s where it gets interesting; during the discussion at Future Everything last night we heard from people with different experiences, successes they wanted to share, and caveats about things to avoid. They felt we had probably uncovered most of the appropriate themes though there were a few extra points to add to the more detailed version of our list later. But the most valuable thing for me was the realisation was that each theme could, and should, be presented as a use case. They’re meaningless frameworkery for its own sake if we don’t figure out what the purpose of each category actually is.


So here’s my crude starting not-a-framework-at-all-actually of use cases: I don’t think this is complete or even necessarily correct, but it’s a start. I’d love to hear from some of you out there about what you’d add, remove or change here. There’s a shared Google doc here if you’d like to comment or contribute.




As an entrepreneur
I need to know what datasets are available
So I can work out if a business idea is feasible and build a prototype




As a developer
I need to find other people to talk to about working with data
So I can find out what’s possible


As a data owner
I need to know which datasets people want most
So I can focus on getting those done first



As a data owner
I need to know how to prepare and upload a dataset somewhere
So I can share it in a way that makes it usable by others


As a data owner
I need quick and basic level training opportunities
So I can understand how to use the tools I’ve chosen or been given


As a data owner
I need quick and basic training or information resources
So I can understand the issues around open data



As a data owner
I need to know how to prepare and assess a dataset correctly
So I know I’m not exposing personal or sensitive data


As a data owner
I need to know what platforms and systems are available
So I can choose the most relevant option for me or my organisation or my audience



As a developer
I need a particular dataset
So I can create a prototype app or service



As a developer
I need datasets to come in a predictable, consistent and documented format
So I can write code that works and won’t break if the data is refreshed in a different format


As a data owner
I need to know what my audience expects/needs from data formats
So I can make sure my datasets meet that standard


As a citizen
I need clear summaries and visualisations or simple tools I can use to create them
So I can find the answer to questions I care about


As a data owner
I need to know where people get data and how they want to access it
So I can make sure I’m not excluding anyone from the opportunity to use the data



As a journalist
I need to know how to analyse a dataset
So I can use it to illustrate a story


As a data owner
I need to know how people are using data like mine
So I can understand the benefits and prioritise data release

About jargonaut

Unashamed geek lost in policy land. Frequently required to believe three impossible things before breakfast, and implement them by tea time.
This entry was posted in Future Landscape, Open data, Organisational Development, The Geek Wonk Interface and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Open data use cases

  1. markbraggins says:

    Hi Lucy, this is great, thanks for sharing it – I just linked to it from the Open data Camp home page.
    Is it worth enabling comments in the Google doc?
    Not quite sure where it fits, but in Hants we’re working with various organisations on collaborative projects which will result in new data sets being created which didn’t exist before. That might fit in the Ecosystem section, perhaps?

    • jargonaut says:

      Oops, I’ll go enable comments in the Google doc now – thought I already had!

    • jargonaut says:

      Comments enabled 🙂

      And yes, the work Hants are doing definitely belongs in Ecosystems; anything that involves a wider group than just data owners and publishers, and starts to establish needs and wants from potential data consumers, would fit in there.

  2. Pingback: Open data overload:yorkopendata and #localdata15 |

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