National statistical systems in many developing countries will have to undertake significant reforms to integrate open data standards into their national strategies for statistical development (NSDS). Data do not become open simply by labeling them "open." Data management and dissemination practices, along with legal, institutional, technical, and quality assurance frameworks, must be brought into alignment with the demands of data users both inside and outside government.
Practical Implementation of Open Data for Development
To guide countries in implementing an open data program, Open Data Watch is developing a protocol for identifying opportunities for and obstacles to implementing open data and will provide technical assistance to countries doing so. The Open Data Protocol will be linked to the criteria incorporated in the Open Data Index and will draw on the learning and experience embodied in the Knowledge Center. ODW will draw on the experience of countries and partner agencies in preparing capacity building projects. Existing data quality assessment frameworks will be reviewed and recommendations made to bring out the "openness factor" in the assessment process. Following the protocol will allow national statistical offices to create a roadmap for achieving open data, including a time frame and monitorable targets. Recognizing that countries start from different levels and with different time horizons, the protocol will be dynamic and designed to meet specific country needs so that it can be used to identify both rapid response strategies and long-term development plans for countries at any level of development.
Open Data Watch of course neither could nor wishes to attempt this alone. Solid, practical technical assistance must always leverage the energy and diversity of many partners. Many governmental and international agencies, civil society organizations, academic institutions, private foundations, and professional societies are already deeply committed. Making connections, identifying gaps, connecting thematic dots, sharing best practices, and promoting harmonization are just some critical aspects of ODW's contribution to open data for development.