Inaccessible open data

Readers' Views No 299, Q2 2014
OECD Observer

At the engine room ( we work to close gaps between advocacy and technology through research and networks.

We are working with CIVICUS on the DataShift ( project concept and implementation: this project looks into citizen-generated data and its efficacy in monitoring the post-2015 development goals, as well as what needs to happen in order to bridge the gap between comparability and coverage to inform campaigning.

Another project that is very close to the theme of this discussion is the Responsible Data Forum (, a series of collaborative events, co-organised by Aspiration and the engine room, and convened to develop useful tools and strategies for dealing with the ethical, security and privacy challenges facing data-driven advocacy.

An important intersection to consider when speaking about the efficacy and impact of open data for the social good is the link between the data itself and how it’s presented; strategies and means of consumption of that data. The process of opening data by public institutions is of course a laudable and important process. However, it is very important that the data is easily accessible by humans and computers alike, the former through curated stories and semantically tagged information, open formats (.csv) and fully downloadable information, the latter through APIS, machine-readable data structures and rich metadata. It is an unfortunate, yet regular phenomenon, when institutions publish data online that is really, really hard to get to.

—Tin Geber, commenting on discussion, June 2014

Comments and letters may be edited for publishing. Send your letters to or post your comments at these portals:,, or at the other OECD portals on this page.

©OECD Observer No 299, Q2 2014

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