I was meant to write this post back in July, but never got round to it, so we just dropped a tweet instead. (I’ve just gone to find the tweet to embed here, and I can’t find one, so it looks like we didn’t even do that – for shame…)
Anyway, back in July 2014, we applied through the Open Data Institute website for an Open Data Certificate. At the time, they were pretty new (I think still in Beta). The dataset we were using was the streetlights data that we released as part of the Greater Manchester Data Synchronisation Programme. We wanted to use the certificate as a stamp of authenticity for the data that we released, to help validate the programme. The certificates are also intended to provide information and assurance to data users about how to get and use the data, and how secure it is.
The form took quite a while to fill out (partly because I was using Internet Explorer 8, and partly because the certificates were in Beta) – about 2 hours, but having put all the details of the dataset (such as where the data is held, how often it’s updated, how long we expect it to remain, whether we blog about it, whether it references other datasets, and many other questions), we were awarded a Pilot Level certificate. This is one above the basic ‘raw’ level, but shows that we are publishing data, and we are going a bit further to try and help data users access and use the data. So we were delighted with this. We were even more delighted to find out that we were the first Local Authority in the North of England to receive a certificate, and the first in the country to get Pilot level.
This has also left us wanting more – what exactly do we need to do to get ‘Standard’, or even ‘Expert’ (no-one has yet achieved expert level).
We also want to get certificates for all of our open datasets. We applied for a couple more (toilets and planning), but they are still time consuming to complete (about half an hour) – we could really do with a way of cloning certificates – most of the information will be the same for different datasets. Things like our social media accounts, or the contact details will remain unchanged, so we could rattle through quite a few certificates just by changing a handful of fields. Until then, we’ll continue to pick out certain high profile datasets that would benefit from a certificate.
We are also planning to put all of our certificated(?) datasets on one page, under the appropriate badge, so that we can keep a tally of how many we have. We are hoping to use this to help quantify our open data output, because there’s a degree of external moderation there (though the certificates are self-evaluated, they can be verified by the community). If others do the same, then we can start to compete! There are approximately 170 certificates on the ODI website, many of which are there because of the LGA Incentivised Open Data Scheme. So people are aware that they exist, and it might just help if we instil a competitive element (maybe with rewards..!) to releasing and applying for certificates for open data.
(As a final point, I would reeeaaaallllly like a physical version of the badge, in sticker form, that I and the rest of the lab can put on our laptops, if anyone that can do that is reading…)