This unique program allowed municipalities in North-Holland to learn to deploy open data as a policy instrument. So that other stakeholders, using open data, can get involved. We designed the program, facilitated the process and provided hands-on support inside government organisations.
A Province and 9 municipalities use open data as a policy instrument
The Province North-Holland aims at making open data a fundamental part of interacting with citizen and civic organisations. Earlier steps were aimed at awareness raising and saw too little in terms of follow-up and impact. The unique program ‘Noord-Holland Slimmer’ (North-Holland Smarter), provided municipal governments with the knowledge and experience to use open data as a policy instrument in support of reaching their own policy goals. By doing it, rather than just discussing it. This was done in collaboration with other municipalities as well as with local civi partners and businesses.
Three phases, aimed at learning and doing together
During the festive start event in March 2014, nine municipal governments signed the Open Data Manifesto, and started a year of working together towards more open data.
Until March 2015 the program went through three phases. Starting point was using open data as a way to increase engagement and interaction with other stakeholders around policy issues that matter to the municipal government. That way there is an intrinsic motivation to publish open data as the re-use of that data has relevancy to government itself. The first phase was therefore focused on raising internal awareness, and finding a suitable policy issue. In the second phase, data sets that are connected to that policy issue were identified and where possible published as open data. With the data in hand, in the third phase external stakeholders were approached for conversations around the policy issues, and to see if providing data gave those stakeholders new agency. Each municipal government was provided with hands-on support in their own organisation, and there were multiple joint sessions with all participants to exchange experiences, discuss obstacles, and collectively learn new approaches and instruments.
In March 2015 a final public event was held, in which some 125 civil servants from all over the Netherlands participated, where the 9 municipalities and the Province presented and discussed the results, as well as what is still left to do.
An exciting journey, with tangible results
For each participating municipality this was an exciting journey with an at first unknown destination. For all of them open data was a new topic and the idea to deploy it as an instrument was novel as well. A wide variety of topics was chosen by the participants, from flash flooding after heavy rain, to local finances, and from single entrepreneurs in disadvantaged neighborhoods to public transport for the elderly. In the program we learned how to see open data as an instrument that can be of help in these policy issues, and to find out how to do that for other issues as well. For all municipalities this was just the start, and some came as far as embedding open data in their regular information processes and line management.
Delivered by Frank Verschoor and Ton Zijlstra in 2013-2015
Assignment by the Province Noord-Holland and municipal governments