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From Development to Adoption: Lessons from Three Open Standards

What is an Open Data Standard and how to make the best use of it?

Through extensive documentation research of public and internal resources, and interview data from two lead standard developers at OpenNorth – Stéphane Guidoin (Open511) and James McKinney (Popolo, Represent), the report outlines the challenges faced in the standards development process and the recommendations for those in the open data community wishing to undertake their own data standard development.

Main Observations:

•    Collaboration does not guarantee accurate use case (or persona) generation, particularly if potential adopters are not engaged; 
•    Who collaborates matters - domain experts and IT experts have different skill and knowledge sets;
•    Software tools can help support adoption; 
•    Support for standards is needed from software platforms used by data suppliers; 
•    Standards can come after a product is created, and arise out of data needs.


•    Create standards based on demand for data to ensure there will be adoption;
•    Create simple, lightweight standards;
•    Involve official collaborators as early as possible in the development process and maintain their engagement with the project; 
•    Involve both domain experts (who have knowledge of content) and IT professionals (who will implement the standard); 
•    Create software tools to ease the process of adoption (such as data validators, conversion tools, and mock-ups);
•    Seek software publisher support for the standard (such as enterprise platforms governments may rely upon);
•    Factor in costs of outreach, facilitation, and maintenance.



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