Seeing like a state: lessons from building an Open Data support team

Benjamin Seibel

March 20, 2019, 4:30 p.m.
Room D (Chateau)

In May 2018 Technologiestiftung Berlin won a government grant to launch ODIS, a Civic Tech team that offers support to Berlin’s authorities in releasing quality datasets to the public.

Based at a private non-profit foundation, ODIS is committed to work closely with government employees while at the same time maintaining an outsider’s view to ensure that the released data was actually useful to others.

They started with the hypothesis that the main obstacle for progress in Open Data was a lack of digital expertise in government. This turned out to be wrong.

Rather, the more insights they gained into the internal mechanisms of public administration, the more complex and impossible their task appeared to be. They encountered unclear responsibilities, conflicting interests, interdependency and socio-political complexity, all set in a rapidly changing environment.

Benjamin shares a few of the learnings, success stories and failures gleaned while offering hands-on Open Data support for public servants. In short: ‘How we stopped trying to convince people, started listening and turned from Open Gov activists into Closed Gov therapists’.

Video

Slides

Seeing like a state: lessons from building an Open Data support team: Benjamin Seibel (Technologiestiftung Berlin, Germany) from mysociety