Open Data Starts With Community!

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 1 • Issue 1 • Summer 2017

    By Suzy Christophersen

    I wanted to get a conversation about open data going in my organization, without yet another committee. After some research, I came across the term “community of interest” and it resonated with me. What's a community of interest? It's a group of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in the topic by interacting on an ongoing basis.

    Excited about bringing together a community, I reached out to the GIS experts in my organization and asked if they would be interested in getting together to geek out on data. They were! No government group is complete without an acronym so DataCOIN, our open data community of interest was born.

    Together we dreamed about what DataCOIN should be.  The group quickly narrowed in on a few goals, the most agreed upon being to get an open data policy in place. First we defined what open data means to our organization and assessed the current state. Next we drafted two policies and gained consensus (“I can live with it and support it”) in a group of 20+ people, before we came up with our final simplified open data policy which became policy in July 2016.

    The moral of this story? You don’t need to be a expert to start a community in your organization.   It’s up to you to connect the dots -- don’t wait around for someone else to take the lead in building a data-centric culture! A community of interest is a great way to connect with people across silos (like an internal Meetup group) whatever the topic. Don’t know where to start?  Let’s chat via the NAGW listserv or on the government-only DataCOIN Slack channel by going to