Continuous Improvement

Congratulations, the open data program has been successfully launched! After the launch party and media outreach, it is time for the city to measure and evolve its program.

Measuring Success

Just as measurement is the foundation of performance management, it is equally important to track the success of a city’s open data program. Standards do exist to provide guidance in publishing certain datasets, but this is not necessarily the best way to determine the value of datasets. A successful open data program is one that engages the public, and measures and tracks outputs and outcomes. Monitoring the public’s engagement with a city’s open data program is critical to maintain and grow the program. Below are two ways to think about measuring success of an open data program:

  • Outputs - Metrics collected around a city’s open data program will most likely reflect outputs related to usage. This can include the number of datasets made public, how often data is viewed or downloaded, how many people visit the data catalog, and the number of assistance requests. Although setting goals is an inherent part of measurement in performance management, goal setting for these metrics will not necessarily help a city provide greater value or increase engagement. However, establishing baseline data can help a city monitor program growth or decline. Note that these metrics are different than the ones the city uses to measure progress toward overarching citywide priorities.
  • Outcomes - The real value of the city’s open data is not something which can be easily quantified, and most cities use anecdotes when describing successes. A more rigorous way to measure outcomes is to track program improvements and efficiencies, public perception of government, understanding of government’s activities, awareness of open data, and trust in government, before and after the creation of an open data program.

Evolving the Program

Open data programs continually evolve as public expectations, value of data, and technologies change. The program may have started with a simple list of data files, but there are a variety of ways to make it easier for the city’s data to be found, used, and valued. There are so many ways to improve the program over time that the Center has a whole other guide for it. Explore the Johns Hopkins Center for Government Excellence’s Open Data Long-Term Guide (coming soon) for more information.

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