How to prepare for open data publication

The first step in the controlled opening of your data is Planning. In this step, you make a formal decision about opening your data, establish the basic roles (team) needed to handle the process, and design a strategy for publishing and managing your data. During Planning, you will think about how best to avoid problems and ensure that the data you publish is sustainable, accessible and usable by potential buyers.

Not only in the planning phase, it is good to know that open data is now supported by legislation, namely Act No. 106/1999 Coll. Many useful information can be obtained through the National Open Data Portal , which manages the national open data catalogue in the Czech Republic and provides information and recommended standards for opening data. The German equivalent is the Data Portal for Germany, which manages a catalogue of transparent, open and freely usable data at national level. We draw on both sources for this website. A complete overview of the sources used can be found here.

The decision to open data and the formal establishment of the team

The actual publishing and management of data in your organisation will require a certain amount of work and interaction between multiple people in your organisation. Therefore, you will need to get management support for open data development. For an example of how a decision to open data can be made, click here.

Management should formally establish roles, in particular the Open Data Coordinator, and identify the relevant staff/departments that will be involved in opening data. Similarly, it is a good idea to formally describe the roles, their responsibilities and the publication rules themselves. For this, it is ideal to prepare and issue relevant internal legislation. An example can be taken from the model guidelines for the publication and cataloguing of open data issued by the national open data portal.

Data opening coordinator

ensures the interaction and control of the output of all other roles involved in opening data. Responsible for:

  • Preparing the publication plan,
  • Designing Data Curators for each dataset,
  • Providing methodological support to the Data Curators,
  • Publishing the publication plan,
  • deciding on the cataloguing method,
  • Ensuring the final check of the data before publication,
  • ensuring publication of datasets and cataloguing records,
  • communicating comments from open data users and reporting

Selection of datasets

The next step is to select datasets suitable for publication. The data selection and publication is the responsibility of the coordinator, who coordinates the selection of datasets and is responsible for the creation and approval of the publication plan. He/she works with the different departments and stakeholders. He/she shall familiarise himself/herself with their activities and help to identify suitable datasets. However, in most cases, he/she does not know the exact way in which they are created and their specific content. Works with the Curators to make an informed assessment of what sets are appropriate for publication. A curator is usually a staff member with a good knowledge of specific datasets and responsible for their content. In the process of opening datasets, the Curator has a major say in deciding where to place a particular set in the publication plan. The curator proposes datasets for which he/she has substantive responsibility (i.e., creates them, coordinates their collection, etc.) as part of his/her normal work activities. For each dataset, the coordinator and the curator will then jointly assess the benefits and risks of publication and, if identified for opening, set a publication schedule and include the dataset in the publication plan.

Data curator

The curator of the data is usually an employee of the department or division that works with the data, ensures its collection or subsequent processing. Responsible for:

  • Analysing datasets before they are published,
  • Ensuring that the published datasets comply with the valid legal regulations of the Czech Republic
  • Ensuring compliance with the standards of publication and cataloguing of open data of the Czech Republic,
  • Determining the necessity and method of transformation of datasets (e.g. anonymisation, aggregation, changes, etc.),
  • management and quality control of datasets (checking for accuracy, completeness, consistency),
  • cooperation in the dataset publication process with the Data Opening Coordinator and IT specialists,
  • submission of dataset files and drafting the content of cataloguing records (metadata).

The Data Curator is required to provide the IT Specialist and the Open Data Catalog Manager with the necessary assistance in transforming and reviewing the dataset, determining the labor and benefits of publishing the dataset, or creating and updating cataloging records.

Creation and approval of the publication plan

The approach to opening up data must be controlled and should adhere to certain standards that ensure the quality, integrity and shelf life of the data your organisation will publish. These are the main reasons why data opening follows a clearly defined Publication Plan. This describes the procedures for the specific handling of your organisation’s open data, defines the recommended datasets to be published and determines the form of publication. The organisation’s Publication Plan is drawn up by the Data Opening Coordinator.

When selecting appropriate datasets, it is a good idea to also consider the effort required to publish the datasets. For example, datasets that are already available online, but only in less appropriate technical formats or with limited terms of use, are a good first step. Data publications from other municipalities or organisations that are similar to yours are also a good guide.

How does the sample publication plan help?

  • It sets out the specific datasets that will be published by your organisation,
  • set out a timetable for publishing and updating each dataset,
  • sets out the terms and conditions for the use of open data,
  • unifies the way these datasets are published across your organisation (formats, schemas, location in the local data catalogue/NKOD),
  • propose which datasets you will publish, in which data formats and schemas
  • determine how the datasets will be published.

Sample publication plans recommended by

The sample catalogue for municipalities recommended by the German national portal can be found here.

Once the publication plan of the organisation has been drawn up, the plan must be approved by the Management of the organica. Subsequently, all concerned staff of the organisation will follow the approved publication plan for opening data. The management of the data provider should approve the datasets proposed in the plan as well as the timetable for their publication. The publication plan is normally updated once a year.

What should be considered when planning to open data?

  • What data does our organisation have available?
  • Which of this data is already available online today?
  • Which of these data can I provide as open data?
  • Given the variety of data sources and systems that provide data, consider collaborating with other departments in your organization, especially the IT department. Collaboration with the legal department and, of course, data holders can be important.
  • Explore the best practices, guidelines, tools and resources on this website.