The question of why to open data isn’t really the point of this document. It’s for people for whom the “why” has been answered, and they’ve moved onto “how.” That said, let’s just devote a few words to the question of to open data.

Somebody is Making You

It is quite likely that you are reading this because you have been told that you have to open data. Maybe you’re on board, maybe you’re not, but does it really matter? Maybe a bill was passed, maybe it’s an executive order, maybe it’s just something your boss’s boss’s niece is excited about, but no matter the reason, here you are.

Sharing Between Agencies and Between Governments

Perhaps you have to share a lot of data with other agencies within your government. Perhaps you have to share of data with other levels of government (e.g., local, state, or federa). So figure out what you share the most, publish that, tell the people who share it with, and then they’ll stop asking you for it.

Reducing FOIA Load

Answering FOIA requests can be a lot of work, especially for small agencies. The more data that you publish preemptively, the fewer FOIA requests that you’ll receive about that data. If you figure out what people FOIA the most and publish that, your life will be easier.

Private Sector Innovation

People outside of government can potentially do valuable, useful things with your data, but only if they can get it. Some of the valuable things that they could do may be valuable to your agency and its mission.

In particular, consider the good that community non-profits could do with your data, especially those organizations that act as partners to your agency, in terms of their mission. Publishing your data openly allows them to better coordinate with your agency.