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Report: Making Citizen-Generated Data Work

A new report, published by the Open Knowledge International, asks what makes citizens and others want to produce and use citizen-generated data.

The report demonstrates that citizen-generated data projects are rarely the work of individual citizens. Instead, they often depend on partnerships to thrive and are supported by civil society organisations, community-based organisations, governments, or business. These partners play a necessary role to provide resources, support, and knowledge to citizens. In return, they can harness data created by citizens to support their own mission. Thus, citizens and their partners often gain mutual benefits from citizen-generated data.

This report offers recommendations to citizens, civil society organisations, policy-makers, donors, and others on how to foster stronger collaborations:

  • ALIGN INTERESTS AMONG KEY STAKEHOLDERS TO ENCOURAGE PARTNERSHIPS. Successful CGD projects bring together actors with different interests in the same data. Data serves as common ground for actors and is the focal point of collaborations. There is often a difference between the benefits associated with production, use, and uptake. Different actors can value different aspects of the data; understanding how actors perceive this value is key to build multi-stakeholder partnerships. Furthermore, each CGD project should communicate goals and benefits of a collaboration clearly.
  • CITIZEN-GENERATED DATA SHOULD BE USABLE IN MULTIPLE WAYS TO MAXIMISE UPTAKE AND IMPACT. The more ways a dataset can be used, the more different types of actors will become interested in the data. To facilitate different use cases by different actors data needs to be accessible and presented in an interoperable format.
  • TAPPING INTO EXISTING RESOURCES AND PROCESSES MAKES IT EASIER TO PRODUCE AND USE CGD EFFECTIVELY. This includes using technology citizens already use, as well as building on established routines and group dynamics, such as existing bureaucratic processes or community forums.
  • CONSIDER THE SPECIFIC INCENTIVES THAT DEPEND ON THE CONTEXT AND THE GOAL. Key dimensions to consider include whether the project aims to link up with government directly or not, and the socio-political and governance environment. This includes, amongst others, whether the government is responsive, whether there is a strong legal framework and high levels of trust, or whether there is adequate information about the issue.

Download the Report