Cakes, Icing & Open Data

It’s great to see that I’m not the only one using baking analogies when it comes to Open Data and Open Gov.

In his recent post David Eaves talks about open data being the icing, and information management the cake. My analogy — used in presentations at Open Gov West, MISA Ontarioand the recent OpenGovCanada Webinar— is a bit different.

Any organization, including government, like a layered cake has multiple “layers”: people (culture), processes (workflows) and technology (IT infrastructure).

Today, Open Data, on the other hand, is seen as merely the icing on top of the cake. Nice to have, but not essential. Sweet, but not required. Not integral to the “cake”, meaning open data doesn’t really have anything to do (yet) with the culture or workflows, perhaps a bit with technology (open data catalogues, data feeds, possible some citizen apps, etc.)

In the future I believe gov’t org’s will have better alignment across each layer, allowing the “sweetness of open data” to penetrate to the core of government business (vs. being on the “Edge” or a nice-to-have as it’s perceived today).

When aligned, technology, processes & people can then take full advantage of the promise that Open Data holds, which is where Open Data becomes an asset at the core of government culture, with workflows and processes to both share out data and Gather Back meta-data or corrected data from the citizens, plus technology that supports that feedback loop.

That’s when Open Data and Gov’t become a perfect harmony between the icing and the cake.